Some albums defy easy classification. Other albums leave no mystery about how they should be classified. On her last album Let the Demons Out, Ghalia teamed up with Mama’s Boys to explore New Orleans blues. On the new album Mississippi Blend, Ghalia explores influences a little to the north, but remains firmly in the blues.
You can say that there’s nothing new in music – particularly the blues – and you’re right. However, some songs just make you sit up and take notice. “Meet You Down the Road” is one of those songs. Smokehouse Brown bends the notes with some wicked slide work while Lightnin’ Malcolm gives the song a bit of a greasy feel with his guitar riffs. Add Watermelon Slim on harmonica and a beat (laid down by Cedric Burnside) that will make you move, and even if the song isn’t truly new, it’s enough to grab your undivided attention.
Ghalia’s vocals frequently have a charming rasp similar to Elsa Bekman of Dutch soul band The Tibbs. However, she also does a tip of the cap to classic rockabilly with her vocal style on “Squeeze”, a song that could easily get couples swinging on a dance floor.
It’s pretty clear that Ghalia is well-versed in the blues. It’s also clear that recording this at The Zebra Ranch (operated by Cody and Luther Dickinson) in Coldwater, Mississippi, was the right choice. The guitar riff in “Lucky Number” is similar to that in The Allman Brothers version of the Sonny Boy Williamson classic “One Way Out”. Meanwhile Watermelon Slim blows a mean harmonica and the rhythm by Burnside and Dean Zucchero on bass is enough to make you boogie in your living room.
Watermelon Slim joins in on the vocals in the bluesy gospel song “Wade in the Water”. This song is driven by Zucchero’s bass line. Meanwhile Ghalia and Watermelon Slim show that their unique voices combine perfectly as they sing the lyrics to this sort of haunting song.
This album certainly seems to have taken on the character of the location where it was recorded. Ghalia might be from Belgium, but she definitely captured the hill-country blues sound for which Mississippi is so well known. Mississippi Blend will be available everywhere frum Ruf Records on September 20. Order your copy here. and check out this video, here: