Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

TRACY NELSON

VICITIM OF THE BLUES

2011-06-07

On her 26th disc since her 1964 debut, Deep Are the Roots, singer Tracy Nelson returns to her blues roots. Skipping the fake enthusiasm often displayed by those reuniting with the past (think 15 year high school reunion), Nelson by-passes the air kisses and exaggerated back stories and instead greets the blues with the warm embrace of someone falling into the natural rhythm of an old friendship. With tunes that have kicked around so long that they are part of her natural vocabulary, Nelson has no trouble making you believe they are her own. Nelson’s voice remains a wondrous instrument capable of morphing from a Koko Taylor like growl to a purring soul sister with stops at every shade of blue in between. Kicking things off is a rollicking rendition of the Howlin’ Wolf classic, "You’ll Be Mine", which is propelled as much by Jimmy Pugh’s piano work and Mike Henderson’s slicing guitar as by Nelson’s rich, deep vocals. Another Wolf great, "Howlin’ for My Baby", finds Nelson accompanied by Angela Strehli on vocals for a party ready rave up. Percy Mayfield’s "Stranger In My Own Home Town" is a classic slice of soul blues with plenty of B3 grease to keep things moving. The Ma Rainey penned title cut has a jug band feel that adds a nice counterpoint to the Jimmy Reed shuffles, "Shoot My Baby" (featuring piano and vocals from pal Marcia Ball) and "I Know It’s a Sin". Earl Thomas’ "Lead A Horse to Water" has a great swampy feel, rousing gospel overtones and the great line “you can lead a man to knowledge/but you can’t make him think” The Muddy Waters penned "One More Mile" cut by Otis Spann in the 60’s has haunted Nelson since she first heard it. Her version here showcases her rich voice, revealing nuance and complexity that can get lost in the faster paced tunes. This is a terrific release that is a welcome reunion between Tracy Nelson and the blues. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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