Kelly’s Lot – Can’t Take My Soul
CD: 12 Songs, 49:49 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Folk and Blues, All Original Songs
Don’t let the soft pastels and starry background on the CD cover of Can’t Take My Soul fool you. Kelly Zirbes is the best friend with the gritty voice and wild hair who always has your back. Although several of her newest songs are relentlessly positive (“Woe is Me,” “Let it Breathe,” “Little Bit of This”), she performs them with an edge that grounds them in our down-and-dirty world. Genre purists will note that “folk” is listed before “blues” under “styles,” and for good reason. Every blues song on this album contains a little bit of folk, and vice-versa. Zirbes channels Edie Brickell, Sheryl Crow, and Alanis Morissette with considerable skill. The best numbers on this CD, however, are ones where the full Lot shines in the spotlight (the opener and title track). They provide a lilting French vibe on “Rise Up” (Lève-Toi) and “Mon Ami.”
Since 1994, this band has composed 14 CDs and gone on countless tours in the US and Europe. Kelly’s Lot hails from the Los Angeles area and features our leading lady on vocals and acoustic guitar for track five. Joining her are Perry Robertson on guitars, Matt McFadden on bass, Mike Sauer and Michael Mason on drums, Bobby Orgel on keys, Rob Zucca on lead guitar for track six, Frank Hinojosa on harmonica, Jean Paul Monshè on accordion, Eddie Baytos on washboard and accordion for track four, Jean-François Thomas on duet vocals for track six, and Jeri Goldenhar, Andrew Mushin, Jenna Mushin, and Aviva Maloney on background vocals.
The blues are paradoxical, meant to banish bad moods instead of instill them. Without a doubt, these three songs will get one’s toes tapping and one’s fingers snapping, live or at home.
Track 01: “All I Ever Want is the Blues” – Kelly pays homage to the masters in this upbeat, mid-tempo blues rocker. “Robert Johnson’s mean guitar, Stevie Ray, he took it far; Etta James sang her song, and I can last all night long.” Perry Robertson nails it on guitar, and there’s a slight ‘50s atmosphere to the proceedings. It may drop a lot of names, but that’s no shame.
Track 02: “All Hope Ain’t Lost” – With smooth funk and jazz flavors, track two reminds us not to throw in the towel with “greed and money getting in the way” and “big bad boss holding on to all he’s got.” Highlights here are the melodious guitars, background vocals, and Bobby Orgel on understated keyboards.
Track 04: “Woe is Me” – Some people can be real downers, so cheer them up with this flaming-hot Zydeco track. It will call them out and give them hope at the same time: “You tell me you’re in ruin and have many bills to pay, a job that you cannot stand you have to do each day. Oh, you’re so sad, and you’re so mad. You don’t know what you have.” The playful way Kelly sings this last part will make even the most die-hard pessimists laugh (at themselves). Dig Eddie Baytos’ accordion and washboard.
Times in the ‘10s may be hard, but as Kelly’s Lot admirably proves, they Can’t Take My Soul!