12 songs – 49 minutes
Born in Sacramento, Calif., and a veteran of the San Francisco blues community for the past 30 years, Rev. Rabia was born too late to be part of the Flower Child revolution, but that hasn’t stopped her from carrying the spirit of that era forward through her music, as this album demonstrates.
A Delta blues woman at heart despite her roots, she learned guitar in her teens and worked solo for a decade before working extensively with legendary guitarist Robert Lowery and harmonica player Virgil Thrasher. Today, she teams with her husband Keizo Yamazawa, a studio guitarist in his native Japan, who’s also a music journalist and photographer.
Future Blue(S) is produced by Mike Wilhelm, a founding member of the influential band The Charlatans, the first psychedelic rock band to emerge in the Bay Area in the ‘60s, and Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia’s favorite guitarist, in addition to being a former member of The Flamin’ Groovies, one of the forerunners of punk rock.
But don’t let that dissuade you. This is definitely a blues album, albeit sonically different than what you normally come across in today’s market. It’s a follow-up to Never Too Late, a release she recorded with Thrasher in 2010.
This production will have a familiar feel to anyone old enough to have lived through that era as it delivers a set of mostly acoustic blues. All three guitarists contribute to the mix, aided by Scott Slagle on drums, congas, maracas and cabasa, and Gary Bouley, who contributes lead guitar on one cut. The material includes five Rev. Rabia originals interspersed with reworked covers that span from the first generation of the blues to modern times.
The action kicks offs with “Wanna Be A Hippie,” a richly layered, autobiographical blues, in which Rev. Rabia admits she was born too late and states: “I missed the Summer Of Love/Can’t afford to live in the Height” as Wilhelm and Yamazawa trade leads. It’s the only number with a true psychedelic feel.
Rev. Rabia’s rich, sweet alto vocals are accented by occasional octave jumps on “Be Careful What You Wish For,” a minor-key pleaser that features Keizo on slide. It’s a skill she uses on several of the tunes. Two solid covers — Charley Patton’s “Pea Vine” and Tom Waits’ “Eggs And Sausage (In A Cadillac With Susan Michelson)” with its familiar references to nighthawks at the diner – follow before the original “Code Blue,” an uptempo blues about the singer’s intent to romance her man until he turns the title color.
The theme continues with “I Worship Men,” an interesting thought because the reverence continues despite the realization that her most recent guy had someone else on the side. A quintet of covers — including a slow, sugary version of Lightnin’ Hopkins’ “Automobile Blues,” a faithful take of Willie Brown’s “Future Blues,” John Prine’s “Angel From Montgomery,” Chris Whitley’s “Poison Girl” and Blind Willie Johnson’s “The Soul Of A Man” – follows before the original “Pack It Up,” about wondering “how many clothes a shoebox will hold,” brings the action to a close.
Available through CDBaby, Microsoft and other online retailers as well as directly through the artist’s website, Future Blue(S) is forward looking in title only. If your bag is acoustic blues, this one’s a delight and perfectly suited for you.