Review by James "Skyy Dobro" Walker, Kankakee Daily Journal, Kankakee, Blowtorch Blues Society Blues News, "Friends of the Blues" radio program WKCC 91.1 FM
Central Illinois Blues Challenge winner Deb Seitz has made herself a promise, and this time she’s “not giving in.” The Lockport, Illinois songstress’ latest project, the solo album Another Promise, makes the listener a better guarantee: it will double your pleasure and double your fun.
In an interesting and unique approach, Seitz gives fans two versions of seven of the nine original songs, one a band mix with electric guitar and one an acoustic mix. The band mixes come first followed by the acoustic mixes with the songs in a different order. The best parts are a double dip of Seitz’s beautiful and accomplished voice and twice as much guitar from Frank Anastos. Of this electric/acoustic concept, Seitz said, “I believe the idea is good, and the songs compliment themselves with having two versions.”
The title track finds the dynamic Frank Anastos on electric guitar absolutely launching the song (and CD) with an emotionally charged power Rock riff the likes of which would be expected only in a mid song climax. Seitz comes in on vocals using her seasoned and formidable Rock voice and bares her soul, “This highway leads right to his door.” Seitz’s self penned lyrics express that self discipline is hard, but her will is stronger this time – she’s keeping this promise. This cut and the final track are the only ones presented as single versions.
Pounding the first notes heard and anchoring the rhythm is arranger and producer, has-worked-with-everybody Patrick Doody. South Chicago bassman John Falstrom cohabitates the rhythm section. The four person lineup is the simple formula for the success on these songs’ artful production.
The second cut, “Livin’ The Blues” is instantly-likeable. Striking the song’s mood of frustration, Anastos’ opening guitar notes plaintively pierce the air in a slower tempo. Seitz this time utilizes a soft, melancholy Blues voice. She makes you feel her hurt when she sings, “Oh, I’ll be alright, I’ve got nothin’ to lose/I’m happy just sittin’ back, livin’ the blues.” Behind the vocals in the second line (“Pickin’ a few strings on my guitar”) we hear Anastos applying more ambiance by subtlety picking, Nashville-style top string twang. Then he highlights her third line with shimmering chords followed by punctuating the fourth line with a sharp noted lead. Now that is thoughtful production! And, as if that wasn’t enough, check out the mid song guitar bridge.
Uplifting fun and celebration of live music are found in the third track, “Soul of the Music.” Deb is obviously having fun too (“Come let the music set you free!”), because you can hear her gleefully howl and laugh out loud just ahead of the ending guitar solo. A careful listen to the lyrics reveals an indictment of all the “Idol” shows on television with their soul-less songs.
Seitz and band pick up the pace on the fourth cut, “Muddy at the Crossroad.” The mood of joyful hope for a new found love is embellished with Doody’s quickened stick work, Falstrom’s pulse-in-your-throat bass, and Anastos’ uplifting leads. Co-writing, with Frank Anastos, some of the best metaphor, Deb sings, “There you are, and I need you / But the going’s been slow / Inside of me the memories run deep.... / It’s muddy at the crossroads / At the bottom of my heart.” Expresses Deb, “The song has an uplifting feel, but even falling in love can be ‘sticky’ so to speak.”
On “Lady Blue” Seitz puts incredible energy into singing with a Blues voice alternately full of tearful soul followed by pleading desperation. To the woman who stole her lover she sings, “Lady Blue...Why should I lose? / Am I too late; does his heart belong to you?” Seitz confided, “I had to dig deep on this one.” The acoustic version this time best showcases Anastos in a clinic on how to support a singer.
Of the sixth track, “I thought I Knew You,” Deb reports, “It's a very deep song and borders on Christian music I know. I wrote it over 10 years ago, and I sang it in church, once.” Again, Anastos perfectly sets the mood of lament with some soft laconic chords while Deb tells of her protagonist during a marital separation., and subsequent divorce. “Oh Lord, I have no place to go / The road behind me is the only road I know,” she sings.
Slide guitar fans take heart. For “Do You Just Want To Dance?” there’s an electric opening on track seven and a killer Dobro intro on cut nine’s acoustic version. Smiles Deb, “This is definitely my ‘bad attitude’ song.”
Seitz and Doody know people like to dance, so a hard driving shuffle paces “Goin’ Somewhere,” the last band mix track.
By the end of the fifteenth track, the listener has become convinced that Deb Seitz is one of the most versatile vocalists on the Chicago blues scene. Her ability to capture feelings and express emotional moods with an attention grabbing vocal quality is simply top shelf! Her song writing is not bad, either.
By the final track, the listener is also convinced that Frank Anastos is a guitar master. To further cement that thought, in the last cut, Anastos goes solo on a haunting acoustic instrumental simply titled, “Frank’s Blues.”
With no horns, no keyboards, and no fuss, Deb Seitz and crew have successfully shown how a simple line up can use intricate arrangements. The result is listeners get twice as much great music compared to some overly honked and hyper wonked mish-mash! That’s a promise!