Debra Power – That’s How I Roll
Self-Release – 2019
12 tracks; 53 minutes
Calgary, Canada, is home to pianist and vocalist Debra Power who follows up her 2016 debut album Even Redheads Get the Blues with this all-original effort. Debra’s powerhouse vocals and piano rightly take centre stage, supported by Chris Byrne who plays bass and co-produces the album, Russell Broom on guitar and Lyle Molzan and Kelly Kruse who share drum duties. Mike F Little adds Hammond to five cuts and horns appear on four courtesy of Mike Clark (tenor sax), Pat Belliveau (baritone) and Ian David Hartley (trumpet). Guests include slide players Joey Landreth (three tracks) and Tim Williams (one track); Jack Semple (guitar and vocals), Chris Brzezicki (upright bass) and Steve Pineo (harp) each appear on one cut; a ‘choir’ of Ann Vriend, Cindy McLeod, Ellie Osborne and Debra’s daughter Katie August McCullough add backing vocals to one song.
“All Night Playing The Blues” is a lively start with Debra’s piano setting the pace as she sings of what a fine time she has playing live, as we do on this rollicking tune that brings to mind another piano-playing lady, Marcia Ball. “Takin’ The High Road” adds a soulful note as the horns join in, Debra deciding to get away from the issues that her man seems to have; Russell takes a nice solo before the tune shifts gear into a hot gospel finale with the ‘choir’ joining in. Debra does a good job on “Blue Tears”, a late night number which would have suited Billy Holiday, the jazzy feel accentuated by Ian’s muted trumpet, double bass and brushed drums before we shift styles again for the title track, a strong cut with something of a Little Feat vibe with horns and slide (Tim Williams) in which Debra tells us how she sees life. “Last Time I’m Lovin’ You” is a comic song, a duet with Jack Semple which finds the couple drifting apart, then deciding to ‘kiss and make up’ – only to discover that neither of them has a car to drive home in! More serious is “If We Haven’t Got Love” in which Debra bemoans the world she sees around her, homelessness, prejudice and hatred; Joey Landreth’s slide work is striking here, as it also is on the rocking “I’m Coming Around” and “Side On Sue” which closes the set on a heavier note with the Delta feel of the slide partnered with harp, a song about a very thin woman with a bad drug habit.
Debra makes a heartfelt plea to her man in “Don’t Ever Leave Me”, a ballad with gentle Hammond behind Debra’s piano, and offers some more of her personal philosophy in “My Grateful Song”; “Love is the answer, love is the key, we can break down doors: this is my grateful song, where the hell is yours!” “Let Me Love You Tonight” is an emotional ballad with insistent piano work, sax and some lovely guitar phrasing from Russell while Debra plays solo on “Please Forgive Me Blues” and sounds far from ready to welcome her straying man back home!
There is some good original material here on a well played and produced disc.