Rory Block review…July 5, 2018….

RORY BLOCK

A WOMAN’S SOUL

A TRIBUTE TO BESSIE SMITH

STONY PLAIN RECORDS  SPCD 1399

DO YOUR DUTY–KITCHEN MAN–JAZZBO BROWN FROM MEMPHIS TOWN–GIMME A PIGFOOT AND A BOTTLE OF BEER–NEED A LITTLE SUGAR IN MY BOWL–I’M DOWN IN THE DUMPS–BLACK MOUNTAIN–WEEPING WILLOW BLUES–ON REVIVAL DAY–EMPTY BED BLUES

Having just completed a series of recordings dedicated to some of the finest male Delta blues masters to ever bend a string, guitarist/vocalist/composer, and five-time Blues Music Award winner Rory Block now turns her massive talents toward the distaff side with the first of her series entitled “Power Women Of The Blues,” with “A Woman’s Soul: A Tribute To Bessie Smith,” for Stony Plain Records.  With this album, Rory begins a musical journey that has been on her “to-do_ list for more than fifty years, to bring notoriety to the turn of the 20TH Century female blues singers.  Herein, Rory played all the guitar and bass arrangements on her Signature Martin guitars, as well as all the percussion parts!

The whole thing is a stone gas from start to finish, likely as Bessie would’ve wanted.  Leading off, Rory calls on her man to “come and drive my blues away” and “Do Your Duty!”  Rory’s slide makes “Gimme A Pigfoot And A Bottle Of Beer” bristle with spit-in-your-eye swagger, while our lovelorn heroine, “tired of bein’ lonely/tired of bein’ blue,” simply asks for a little “Sugar In My Bowl,” and, yeah, “a little hot dog in my roll!”  Rory closes the set with perhaps one of Bessie’s best-known songs, as that “deep-sea diver” is long gone, leaving her with those inconsolable “Empty Bed Blues.”

Our favorite praised the virtues of ol’ Dan, her “Kitchen Man.”  Seems he had a way ’bout “warmin’ my chops,” with that “jelly roll so nice and hot!”  Obviously, the double-entendres’ run rampant throughout, and is just one of the many reasons  Bessie Smith is held in such reverence today.  Yes, she was known as the “Empress Of The Blues,” and, with “A Woman’s Soul,” Rory Block has captured the soul and essence of one of the pioneer women of the blues, who paved the way for generations of artists after her.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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