Ally Venable – Real Gone
With so many blues songs & artists it’s hard to produce something that even hints at originality. While there are some songs on this 42-minute CD that are basic blues there’s lots of skating originality here that’s tasteful, well-executed & leaves behind a trail of sparks. Some young folks play guitars with smoking fretboards. Believe it. Wear some fireproof clothes for this music by the redoubtable Ally Venable.
“Real Gone,” opens well for its drive & basic blues catchiness but “Going Home,” tweaked my ears. The song smokes slowly like a barbecue grill – lots of flavorful notes fly from Ally’s guitar.
As usual, Ally turns in a first-rate performance. She’s not as raw vocally as Big Mama Thornton but Ally does possess that Bonnie Raitt polish with her Texas rock vocal & blues guitar attack. Something to admire.
Her 5th solo CD is a mature outing with no sugar-coating. Recorded in Nashville, Ally’s razor-sharp slicing on her strings is like swiping a leather strap like a demon barber with a straight edge about to go to work on a thick beard.
Ally knows what each song’s Fahrenheit should be. That may be her secret. She doesn’t just play it ordinary. With a variety of tones, Ally whips across her instrument & her little fills & solos sink into the gaps in the song like grout between tiles. No wild abandon for the sake of showboating.
Produced excellently by Grammy winner Tom Hambridge (Buddy Guy & Susan Tedeschi) Real Gone (Drops March 24–Ruf) features 12-blistering blue devil-tales that include a guitar guest spot by Joe Bonamassa (“Broken & Blue”) & legendary guitarist/vocalist Buddy Guy (“Texas, Louisiana”). Ally sounds like she’s mastered the Bonnie Raitt vocal attitude & with endorsements from Buddy & Joe who needs a review.
Ally at 23 has absorbed so much mud thick old-school blues influences that she appears to be perpetually high on the beauty of performing the blues. She never wallows in going through the motions. “Don’t Lose Me,” has that infectious intoxication swaying through blasts of horns as she runs down her lines. This is as muscular as Tracy Nelson, Maria Muldaur, or Karen Lawrence.
In the more blues-ballad “Any Fool Should Know,” it goes down like smooth Balvenie single malt. The daring “Kick Your Ass,” shows a gutsier Ally. She is excellent with her high-register vocal & she means it. One of the year’s best for sure.
Players – Tom Hambridge (drums/percussion/bgv), Kenny Greenberg (guitars), Tom Macdonald (bass), Moke Rojas (keys), Max Abrams (saxes), Steve Patrick (trumpet) Rachel & Sarah Hambridge (bgv).
Highlights – “Real Gone,” “Going Home,” “Broken & Blue,” “Don’t Lose Me,” “Any Fool Should Know,” “Kick Your Ass,” “Texas, Louisiana,” “Gone So Long,” & the juke-joint oriented “Blues Is My Best Friend.”
Live red guitar image by Mark Bickham. CD cover image by Tino Sieland. Beautiful CD package by Moonshine Design. CD @ Amazon & https://allyvenableband.com/