Debbie Davies takes pride in being a blues artist whose original ideas are based on the tradition of electric Chicago sounds. Her tasteful guitar playing and skilled but not over the top singing have won her audiences worldwide. So it might be off-putting for her fans to observe the cover art of this album, as she is dressed in Elizabethan period clothes, as if attempting some sort of Baroque blues. But there's no small amount of irony in that, for this is the all-instrumental blues album she has been asked to do, inspired not by medieval texts, but people like Albert King, Freddie King, and Kenny Burrell, her personal guitar heroes. Davies displays a crisp, clean, biting attack on her guitar, not at all the screaming, testosterone-driven rock & roll edge of her male counterparts. She does a knockoff of Jimmy Smith's "Back at the Chicken Shack" retitled "Down at the Honky Shack" and a version of "If You Love Me Like You Say" sans lyrics plus wah-wah, and covers Duke Robillard's funky "Fishnet" with a horn section and overdubs. She switches up styles consistently on her originals, like the soulful midtempo Albert King-flavored "Tryin' to Keep It Real," the upbeat swinger "Okie Dokie Stomp" with overdubbed rhythm guitar, and the tough uptown bompity-bomp blues "Percolatin'." A surf element a' la the Ventures is also heard on the soul-jazz tune "Holdin' Court" and the stomp-down "Zoom-in'," while swinging jazz a' la the Kenny Burrell/Ray Barretto guitar/conga drum combine accents the beat of "Atras de Tus Ojos." Bass guitarist Casandra Faulconer to the right and drummer Don Castagno on the left flank Davies, while organist Paul Opalach serves up meaty centerpiece sounds that everyone can feed off of. Nobody should be surprised at how good this effort is, coming straight from the heart and played so well. Blues performers should conduct this kind of well-thought-out and skillful cross examination more often, led by this fine example from Debbie Davies.
All Music Guide