CD: 9 Songs; 33:27 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Solo Acoustic Blues, Soul-Influenced Blues
In the common sense of the word “communion”, people refer to the bread and wine consumed as part of Christian ritual. However, its roots lie in “communication”, whether religious or otherwise. In the spiritual and secular world, music is one of the most powerful forms in which one person can “commune” with another. That is what Montreal, Canada’s Cécile Doo-Kingué does, with indomitable power, on her third solo album. It’s called Anybody Listening, Part 1: Monologues. One would think that’s the title of a stage play instead of a blues CD, but if there’s anything at which Cécile excels, it’s surprising and shocking people. Two tracks on Monologues contain explicit lyrics, but they are neither misplaced nor unnecessary. Sometimes, to get one’s point across, a vulgar vocabulary is keenest.
When Doo-Kingué communes with her audience here, all she needs is her Chardonnay-dry voice and her vibrant acoustic guitar. However, the next two installments in her Anybody Listening trilogy will be Dialogues, featuring a full band, and Communion, a live release. What gives Cécile the blues? Prescient social issues such as police brutality, homophobia, racism and her desire for universal understanding are frequent song topics. Nevertheless, don’t mistake her for a preacher. She also covers the spicier side of human emotions, otherwise spelled L-U-S-T.
All nine songs on the album are originals, speaking to Doo-Kingué’s razor-sharp songwriting skills. Some blues fans might wish she had more vocal range, but then again, this isn’t opera. In The following three songs are not only the most pure-sounding blues, but the most pointedly written:
Track 03: “Six Letters” – Featuring an opening chord that’s more jarring than the one in “A Hard Day’s Night”, track three is the dark highlight of the entire CD. The title refers to a word no one would ever put on a Scrabble board: “Six letters that’ll make you smile when you’re joking with your friends. Six letters spelled from an evil I will never, ever comprehend.” Such letters are no laughing matter when facing police brutality.
Track 04: “Little Bit” – What does one need in order to have an enjoyable life? “A little bit of moonshine, a little bit of grub, a little bit of good times, and a whole lot of love.” Lighthearted but never syrupy, “Little Bit” features an irresistible guitar hook.
Track 06: “Bloodstained Vodka” – Even though track seven is unsuitable for radio airplay, this is 90-proof blues. It’s also an indictment of Russia’s anti-democratic and homophobic laws, which came to the forefront at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. Not only did LGBT athletes and spectators face discrimination, but “Pussy had a Riot, and Pussy got locked up in the hole.” Nevertheless, the human spirit triumphed on both counts, so go ahead and drink a toast to it.
Monologues is a giant stick of political and social dynamite, with acoustic blues as the fuse!