Saturday, December 10, 2011

Fiona Boyes -- "Blues For Hard Times"

I came to "discover" Fiona Boyes by listening to fellow Australian guitar great Geoff Achison. Geoff was playing a backyard concert & tipped me to Fiona--all it took was one listen to "Live at Bluesville" (2008) and I knew Fiona Boyes was a keeper. That record was really good, recorded with Rich del Grosso and Mookie Brill (see my review August 2008), but this one is even better! It is her eighth solo release, a stripped back, traditional album featuring a mix of acoustic and electric small ensemble performances and six solo tracks. Again Boyes takes the listener on a road tour of blues styles, including Mississippi Hills, Delta slide and ragtime, late 20's women's barrel house, early Chicago, New Orleans/Louisiana country blues, and Piedmont finger-picking. Everything was produced by Kaz Kazanoff & Boyes and recorded at Wire Recording Studios in Austin Texas. The band this time out is a stellar bunch, including Fiona Boyes on guitar and vocals, Jimi Bott or Frosty Smith on drums, Dave Kahl or Larry Eisenberg or John Mazzacco on bass, Kaz Kazanoff on harmonica or percussion, Derek O'Brian on guitar, a terrific Nick Connolly on piano on "Guys Be Wise" and "Pony Ride." Mark Rubin on tuba and John Mills on clarinet bring a wonderful swing horn sound to "Guys Be Wise." Bob Margolin plays great electric guitar/slide on "Baptized in Muddy's Sweat." There is a solo acoustic cover of Rev Gary Davis's "Mean World" that I think is even better than the Eric Clapton/Duane Allman duet on Clapton's Crossroads box set. Boyes wrote eleven of the 16 songs here, and I am impressed by her songwriting. "Chain Gang" and "God & the Devil" feature Boyes on electric guitar. The rest of the songs feature Boyes on resonator guitar or acoustic guitar. With the variety of blues styles here, the constant connection is Boyes' wonderful singing and her sharp guitar playing. On every song she brings taste and skills. This cd has been in my cd player a lot over the past two weeks, and I really like it. Fiona Boyes is a triple threat. Check it out.

You can buy this cd at

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