Deb Rhymer – Don’t Wait Up
10 tracks | 40 minutes
Oh Canada! Why do so many of music’s brightest lights shine from up north? The answer The Deb Rhymer Blues Band gives is simple dedication and great songs. Here Deb co-writes a whole lovable mess of them based on the classic Chicago shouters but skillfully includes four covers with her own offbeat stamp of north of the border West Coast Blues. She is backed by Canadian blues veterans Kelly Fawcett on guitar, Andy Grafitti on drums and Clayton O’Howe on bass. This, her second album, is possibly the start of something big for “The Queen of the Blues in Western Canada” as she was referred to by Maple Blues Award winner David Vest.
The opener “Heartache and Trouble” with some super stylish sax by Gene Hardy gets the old school shuffle show on the road with the get up on your feet beat ballad about bad men and the results of associating with them but it’s her seductive clear round sounding vocals that press the charge. The next track “Let your Heart Decide” has a “Thrill is Gone” meets slick jazzy vibe with a nice descending chord pattern that frame the IV chord going into the B.B. King V chord half-step turnaround. What makes it completely original is the bridge/second chorus which takes the blues on a distinctly modern ride. The Bill Johnson guest guitar here is reminiscent of many a great Steely Dan lead and he is indeed one of Canada’s greatest blues players out there today.
As the program unfolds the hits keep coming. Etta James’ “Cry for Me Baby” is a perfect composition. It combines the best parts of Jimmy Reed “Big Boss Man” turnaround riff with the Willie Cobbs penned Bo Diddley derived “You Don’t Love Me” riff perfected by Junior Wells and Buddy Guy, but better blues writing pedigree cannot be found. The Kelly Fawcett guitar tones and guest harp solo overlap by Gary Preston pump up the tried and true tune where needed. Number four James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good)” does just that but at a slowed down slinky groove reinventing the wheel while paying serious homage to the master of the dance floor classic foot turner. There are some more great originals breaking it down for the sorrowful title track “Don’t Wait Up” then back into the night time is the right timer “Just Enough Blues” with the line ‘Everyone knows I love The Rolling Stones…” and it rocks without leaving the blues behind. Producer Wynn Gogol lends his rollicking piano throughout this track with the final lick putting the lid on tight. In fact the entire album sounds meticulously put together and plays as a perfect set. The next original track features the trombone solo and response swagger of Randy Oxford to her call of hey buddy “There’s the Door”.
“It Won’t Be Long” written by J. Leslie McFarland, one of his many on Aretha’s first album for Atlantic in 1961, is delivered with dedicated deference to the historic material. Great choice and it’s a fun tune. The inclusion of “Waking Up Slow” by Gary Nicholson and Kelley Hunt caps off the cover versions which steal the show with yet another delightful twist on the original. Deb knows how to own a song. Gary has written so many songs for everybody in the Texas country blues school including Delbert McClinton, Billy Jo Shaver and the one that got him off the ground, Micky Gilley’s “Jukebox Argument” from the hit movie Urban Cowboy. Maybe Deb could go a little country the way she handled that little ditty?
The takeaway here is this CD is a keeper and the future is unlimited for an artist who knows exactly who she is and what she can bring to each song. She wrote some great tunes here but like so many great performers she knows how to make a song her own whether she wrote it or not. Bottom line is this CD is rated: Highly Recommended.