Demetria Taylor – Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do
Those who find the rollicking blues of Janis Joplin too aggressive, the smoky seductive blues vocals of Cassandra Williams too eclectic may find the polished Etta James approach of Demetria Taylor more to their liking. Taylor blues are a bit more luxurious sans James’ more gutsy sides. There’s much to enjoy in these 12-tracks.
There’s no big production but it’s mannered & persuasive – as it should be. Some originals (“83 Highway”) sound like vintage classics, so what? That’s the blues. “Baby Be Good,” has good guitar & a groove closer to a pop song squeezed into a blues style. It may be more effective if slowed down to Billie Holiday vocalese.
“Blues Early This Morning,” has B.B. King allure. I’m Gonna Tell It, & “You Belong To Me,” aren’t real blues as much as old-school R&B & closer to soul music. The songs are too funky to be true blues. However, the guitar playing is pure blues while the arrangement hovers close to Sly & the Family Stone.
Demetria cultivates her own way to fill the air — enlivening it with her professionalism. The set by this award-winning blues vocalist is entertaining & nostalgic. I hear the inspiration of blues & soul shaped by Muscle Shoals, Fame Studios & Stax musicians.
The lead guitars of Mike Wheeler, Billy Flynn & Carlos Showers contribute impressively to a path pioneered by Steve Cropper. Exceptional performances. They surround Ms. Taylor with sparkling perceptive runs bluesy & never soulless.
Produced by Julia A. Miller & Elbio Barilari — the set doesn’t provide a new “sound” to the vintage genre but what Demetria has is a total understanding of what past blues artists created & what 60s soul artists delivered. She demonstrates the riches of these associations.
The 52-minute CD was recorded at Delmark Riverside Studios. Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do (Dropped Aug 19–Delmark Records) is equal parts vintage, contemporary & original blues with additional vocals from Deitra Farr, Larry Williams (bass), Brian James (keyboards) & Melvin Carlisle “Pookie Styx” (drums).
This isn’t Big Mama Thornton, Bonnie Raitt, or Bessie Smith blues but, Eric Gale’s lead guitar on Novac’s “The Fifth Word,” (1970 LP) has tonality toward the end of the piece that’s pure melodic blues guitar. It cruises in as the music shifts to a warm tone with surprise similar to Ms. Taylor’s guitarists. A nice channeling of blues lost to the past.
There’s nothing cloyingly novel though “Nursing My Kitty Cat,” comes suggestively close. I doubt this challenges the 78 rpm discs of Ma Rainey’s 1924 & Lucille Bogan’s 1935 cover of “Shave ‘Em Dry.”
Demetria’s a welcome artist & may later get sassier for nightclubs but she’s never vulgar. Song highlights include: “Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do,” “Done,” (excellent), “Welfare Blues,” & “Young Gun Taylor.”
Cover photo: David Tepper. CD @ https://delmark.com/product/875-demetria-taylor/