I have reviewed in the past some well-polished Americana-country-folk-roots artists from Sweden, Finland, Norway, Australia, & New Zealand (Donna Dean) among others. Steppenwolf’s legendary lead vocalist John Kay (excellent acoustic LPs) is German. Milan, Italy’s Eugenio Finardi has released many LPs but one – an all-English blues LP “Anima Blues” charted in Texas.
That brings me to Belgium’s Ghalia Volt – a bluesy chanteuse who plays virtually all instruments (guitar/slide/drums/vocals) on this fine Memphis, TN 11-track solo LP for Germany’s Ruf Records (drops Jan. 29).
The groove’s solid & Volt’s voice while not as powerful as Karen Lawrence’s or as true-blue roots as Bonnie Raitt, does have a propellent of authenticity. She has grit, & a showcase that bristles (“Meet Me in My Dreams”) has John Lee Hooker guitar-stylings & Ghalia coils it up with her compelling voice.
A Brussels busker, she became the adopted daughter of American roots music. From New Orleans, Texas, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona, California & many other locales she plied her trade, wrote songs inspired by her journeys, experiences & imagination.
Featured on cuts are bassist Dean Zucchero (“Espiritu Papago”) & Monster Mike Welch on guitar (“Evil Thoughts”). Both appear on “Just One More Time.”
“Reap What You Sow,” has a blistering slide, & Volt – well, soulfully & blues-fully you don’t get hotter than this. She may not be a Delta or Chicago girl, but this woman has the blues seeping from her pores when she sweats. Who knows why a girl from Belgium was born with this natural tendency to make a black blues man’s eyebrows go up into his forehead.
Volt rakes the same ground as John Hammond – it’s got a dirt road sound instead of a swampy field sound, a juke joint jump instead of a crawfish feast stomp.
“Loving Me Is a Full-Time Job” includes an upbeat blues that is girl-group sweet, & “Just One More Time,” continues that tradition with downright addictive guitars. This is no juvenile music. Volt’s voice is authoritative & stimulating. She possesses that young Brenda Lee squeal. She knows how to use it to her sexy advantage.
While Volt doesn’t have the down-home traditional growl of the late Karen Dalton on “It Hurts Me Too,” it may only need to be played live a little more to further develop that level of drama. The guitar is what makes this stellar for Ghalia. I ain’t complain’.
“Bad Apple,” oh boy, Ghalia may look like a cotton candy girl at times but her guitars sting like wasps. You have to love her. Considering how this is almost entirely played by just Ms. Volt – it’s commendable. Quite an achievement & producer Lawrence Boo Mitchell with Ghalia makes it all sound devilishly brilliant. The 42-minute CD is available at https://www.ghaliavolt.com/