Self-Produced by Polly O’Keary and Conrad Uno
CD: 11 songs; 54:16 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock
“My name is Ozymandias, king of kings; look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair! Nothing beside remains.” So wrote the English poet Percy Bysshe Shelley in the 1800s. An alternative name for the pharaoh Ramesses II, this five-syllable name was intended to instill reverence in everyone who heard it. At the time it did, but now his moniker has faded. What has this to do with the blues? Absolutely everything. Just like Ozymandias, the ‘pharaohs’ of the genre are now dead, although they’re recalled with just as much awe as an Egyptian ruler.
Washington state’s Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method, in their 2013 debut album Compass, present fresh and original material in the style of these ‘old monarchs’, the gods of the blues. They quote these lines from “Ozymandias” in the liner notes of their CD, and they’re the very first thing one sees once one removes the album from its case. Bassist and lead vocalist O’Keary, guitarist and backing vocalist Clint “Seattle Slim” Nonnemaker, and drummer/background singer Tommy Cook, take us on a journey through eleven desert-hot songs. Along with them are The Seattle Horns (Greg Lyons, Mike West, and Pete Kirkman), keyboardist Arthur Migliazza, and backup singers Anita “Lady A” White and Kevin Sutton. Of their offerings, these three are choicest:
Track 01: “Fools Gold” – Backed by Migliazza’s funky keyboard intro and powerful wah-wah electric guitar, O’Keary launches like a rocket into this opening number: “Was it worth the love you sold for fool’s gold?” she asks a former partner. “I wonder how you sleep at night, alone with the lies you told – your head full of empty victories, and no one there to hold. It’s so cold: fool’s gold!” At once a bitter pill and a party drug, this song’s addictive either way.
Track 03: “Nothing Left to Say” – According to her website, Polly O’Keary began her musical career playing in bars in Mexico at sixteen. “Nothing Left to Say” is a burning-salsa tribute to her past, as proven by the sensational Seattle Horns. They provide the atmosphere of a mariachi band as Polly delivers her soon-to-be-ex a spicy ultimatum: “There’s nothing left to do; there’s nothing left to try; there’s nothing left to say but goodbye.” This is the perfect song for summer, surfing, and sticking it to a subpar significant other.
Track 08: “How the Mighty Fall” – With a slight disco beat and catchy subliminal bass line, this song explains a bad turn of life’s wheel of fortune: “Oh, the Lord, he gives; that’s what people say. I’m here to tell you now – He damn sure takes away. How the mighty fall!” This warning against hubris features some of “Seattle Slim’s” best blues fretwork.
Polly O’Keary and the Rhythm Method’s “Compass” will definitely lead blues and blues-rock fans in the right direction!