Casey Hensley – Good as Gone | Album Review

Casey Hensley – Good as Gone

VizzTone Label Group VTCH-002

9 songs – 34 minutes

Based out of San Diego, Casey Hensley set the blues world on its ear in 2018 with her self-titled first release, which earned Blues Blast nominations for both best new artist debut and best live recording. And she doesn’t miss a beat with this all-original follow-up, a mix of jump, swing, Chicago blues and rock.

A fiery redhead who’s still only 26 years old, her Casey Hensley Live Featuring Laura Chavez climbed to the No. 10 spot on Living Blues’ radio charts in addition to regional honors that found her nominated as artist of the year in the 2019 San Diego Music Awards and recognition as a rising star by critics at the Los Angeles Times.

A powerhouse blues belter who might remind you of the late Candye Kane. She rose to prominence in 2015 after handling vocals at several sold-out shows that celebrated Kane’s life after she finally succumbing to pancreatic cancer after a seven-year battle. Both Chavez and Candye’s percussionist son, Evan Caleb Yearsley, regularly tour with Hensley and are present on this one. And when Laura – a phenomenal talent in her own right – is not available, West Coast six-string masters Kid Ramos, Johnny Main, Anthony “The Fallbrook Kid” Cullins and others rotate in her place.

Recorded at Grease Punk Studio in Lakeside, Calif., Good as Gone was co-produced by Casey and Laura. With a roster that includes Marcos C. on bass and Jonny Viau (Sha Na Na and Ramos) and Steven Ebner delivering horns. Hensley’s dynamic pipes shine here in a collection of nine originals that primarily deal with different aspects of romance as they demonstrate her skill as a songwriter, too.

“Good as Gone” opens acapella with Casey’s alto at gale force before launching into an uptempo complaint about never getting her own way with her man, advising that she’s no fool and that she’s ready to hit the door. Chavez’s mid-tune solo echoes the opening: Beginning with stinging chords before launching into a blazing run that slightly hints of Freddie King’s “Going Down.”

The tempo slows dramatically for the slow, driving Chicago blues, “You Should Be So Lucky,” in which Hensley details the reasons why a prospective lover will be fortunate if he’s lucky enough to be chosen to stay at her side. This one’s built out from the ground up from the hook first laid down by Magic Sam in “Easy Baby” and features plenty of high-quality vocal gymnastics.

Casey takes you to church next with “If I Pray,” which starts as a guitar-assisted field holler until erupting into a heavily percussive request for relief from the hard times coloring her life. The band swings from the hip and the horns make their first appearance for “Be My Baby (What Do You Say?),” a West Coast-style jump-blues pleaser. The song has definite old-school overtones, and Hensley’s delivery brightens and sweetens dramatically in the process.

The mood shifts once more for a pair of ballads — “Love Will Break Your Heart,” a soul-blues with a Memphis feel, an overdubbed vocal chorus and killer guitar solo, and “Searching for a Man,” a stripped-down, bluesy rocker with a ‘50s two-step dancehall feel – before shifting gears for “What’s a Woman to Do?” – a horn-driven rocker suggestive of ‘60s all-girl pop rock. The love ballad, “Don’t Want It to Stop,” gives Hensley plenty of space to shine vocally before “All In,” a rapid-fire West Coast jump, brings the disc to a rousing close.

Available from most major retailers, Good as Gone is a keeper on all counts. If you like singers with B-I-G voices, this one’s definitely right for you!

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