CD: 16 Songs; 77:34 Minutes; DVD: 17 Songs; Approximately 90 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues and Blues Rock
One of the challenges the blues genre faces is how to keep itself alive in these rap-and-techno times. Many aficionados ask: “How do we attract young people to the blues?” Most likely, Millennials haven’t grown up listening to the original masters, and think “Muddy Waters” is just a description of the Mississippi River. What to do?
One solution, as proposed by the feisty Florida-born Dana Fuchs, is to swirl the blues with fire-engine-red rock and roll. That’s why purists may grit their teeth as Dana roars like a lioness. Where are the eight-and-twelve-bar rhythms, the repeated A-A-B lyrics, and the timeless themes they treasure?
Fret not: This fearless chanteuse will give everyone their blues “fix” on her new album Songs from the Road. Recorded live at Highline Ballroom in New York City, it contains several songs from her previous releases. The sixteen-track CD is coupled with a seventeen-song DVD, approximately ninety minutes.
Alongside Fuchs on lead vocals, guitar, and percussion: Jon Diamond on guitar and backing vocals; Matt Beck on guitars; Jack Daley on bass; Pete Levin on keyboards, and Joe Daley on drums. Together, on the CD, they perform fourteen original tracks and two covers. On the DVD, there is one more original song. Accompanying the band are the Screaming Sirens – background vocalists Elaine Caswell, Nicki Richards, and Bette Sussman. Of all the tunes, these three compositions of Dana’s are tops:
Track 03: “Livin’ On Sunday” – This gospel-influenced blues ballad tells of a churchgoer who’s not completely satisfied with salvation: “I want more than living on Sunday. I’m not sure how to live any other way. I want more than living on Sunday. I want more; I want more; I want more.” Daily life is “nothing so amazing” as the influence of the Holy Ghost, although the background vocals of the Screaming Sirens might be. Pete Levin’s organ keyboards are glorious as well.
Track 08: “Sad Salvation” – Perhaps the solution to the above conundrum is experiencing earthly as well as heavenly joy. However, even that may fail: “Sometimes love is a sad salvation. We can’t stay warm in its feeble glow, no. Sometimes love is a sad salvation, but it’s the only love she’s known.” Here, Fuchs takes a break from her gritty, growling vocal repertoire and sings with a delightful sense of sweet defeat.
Track 10: “Love to Beg” – Only found on the DVD, its tenth track is a rollicking rocker. “I love to swallow all your pride. I love to swallow mine,” Fuchs sultrily reveals. The band pulls out all the stops, turning up the volume as well as their instrumental energy.
Even though Dana’s vocal range and versatility are rather low, she sure can belt out the blues! Savor her Songs from the Road, especially if on the road, taking a long journey.