Blues Revue Magazine February/March 2002
Cincinnati-based singer/guitarist Kelly Richey takes a quantum leap forward on her 5th album for her own label. While producer John Snyder (Joe Louis Walker, Etta James,. Charles Brown, Derek Trucks) can't take all the credit for Richey's stunning new release, he had a lot to do with focusing her and nailing a sound that's both tough and tender.
On the tough side, Richey's gravelly voice is comparable to Melissa Etheridge's, but her singing is far less abrasively in-your-face than that of the Midwestern rocker. Even when she rips into a basic, no-brains, Stonesy rocker like "Now You Need Me," Richey doesn't resort to throat-shredding intensity, preferring to lay back and add nuance. As for tender, the gospel-infused title track shows she can apporoach beautiful songs with grace and subtlety. The tough/tender dichotomy is also evident in Richey's guitar playing; she moves from fluid quicksilver leads on a stunning take of Nina Simone's classic "Nobody's Fault But Mine" to Hendrix-like fret slashing in "Now You Need Me," breaking out the wah-wah pedal on straight-ahead blues-rockers like "Sister's Got A Problem" and "Angel From Heaven."
By moving her to Memphis and hiring musicians associated with that soulful city, Snyder dips Richey in a low-down, funky swamp sound that's especially noticable on "Livin' on Love" and Delbert McClinton's "All the Help I Can Get." It's a mix that takes advantage of her gritty voice and gutsy, no-nonsense guitar. Most important is that Richey's material is consistently top-notch. These tunes aren't empty, riff-based vehicles to spotlight hotshot leads; they're a combination of originals and covers whose melodies are as rugged as Richey's performance. Sending Me Angels should break this remarkably talented artist wide open. She's overflowing with confidence and the kind of star power that can't be faked.