RUF RECORDS 1156
TRY ME–NOTHING LEFT–SEND ME A DOCTOR–PUT YOUR HANDS OUT OF MY POCKET–SORRY–I’M LEAVING YOU–THIS SONG IS FOR YOU–I’D RATHER GO BLIND–LOVE WON’T FALL APART–LET YOUR SWEET LOVE SHINE ON ME–I SHOOT YOU DOWN–JUST AS I AM
Meena was born in a Catholic village in upper Austria in 1977. As a child, she was immersed into the music of the church thru her family, where everyone played an instrument. Writing her first songs at age seven, it was almost as if it were pre-ordained that she’d be a singer. Others tried to pigeonhole her into the “next Big Thing,” but Thomas Ruf decided to just let her be herself. Under the production tutelage of Jim Gaines, she has just released “Try Me,” twelve cuts that not only allow her natural vocal gifts to shine, but she is also paired with some of the most exciting guitarists and singers in contemporary blues today.
The set kicks off with the James Brown classic title cut, and Meena’s love for harmonies and polyphonic singing comes thru in spades, with help from backing singers Vickie Atkins, Sandy Carroll, and Amyee Bragg. Also of note on this cut is the strong backing guitar from labelmate Joanne Shaw Taylor, who’ll have a new release of her own to tout in a scant few weeks. Slide master Eric Sardinas adds punch to the gritty vocal from Meena on “Send Me A Doctor,” while an ode to a lover turns into the most powerful ballad on the set, the minor-key masterpiece, “This Song Is For You.’ Meena is very comfortable with other genres’, too. “Let Your Sweet Love Shine On Me” is a cool shot of zydeco, while “Sorry” would be right at home down on Music Row.
We had three favorites, too. Eric Sardinas and Erja Lyytinen play dueling guitars over Meena’s ominous-toned vocal in “I Shoot You Down.” “Love Won’t Fall Apart” is a stone roadhouse rocker, and the set closes with a sweet three-part “duet”, as it were, featurng Meena, Shakira S’Aida, and Coco Montoya on “Just As I Am.” After Meena’s solo intro, the song gradually builds to a rousing, gospel-infused climax.
The sky is indeed the limit for Meena. Thomas Ruf took her from a raw singer and helped her to find the blueswoman inside her, and “Try Me” is an excellent opening salvo! Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.