Deb Ryder – Live And Havin’ Fun | Album Review

Deb Ryder – Live And Havin’ Fun

VizzTone Label Group

14 tracks; 62 minutes

The story of how Deb Ryder progressed from watching musicians play at her parents’ club to performing in her own right has been well documented, not least in the Blues Blast interview in February 2016. At that time Deb had just released her second album, now she has five studio albums to her credit, plus this new live one that acts as something of a “Best Of” her output to date. Backed by what can rightly be called a stellar band Deb runs through twelve songs taken from across her previous releases, plus two new additions to her repertoire. Everything you hear is original music, written by Deb and her husband Ric who produced the album together. The band includes Phantom Blues Band members Tony Braunagel (drums), Johnny Lee Schell (guitar) and Joe Sublett (sax), plus Ric Ryder on bass, keyboard player Jim Pugh, guitarist Alan Maggini, harp player Tex Nakamura, sax player Lon Price and trumpeter Paul Litteral. Guests include Big Llou Johnson and guitarists Albert Lee, Artur Menezes and Joey Delgado.

Deb opens with a new song, “Fun Never Hurt No One” that rather sums up the feel of the album, as everyone is clearly enjoying themselves on an uptempo number with the horns blaring away and Joe Sublett taking an exciting solo. Deb’s vocals are forceful and clear as she invites everyone to get involved. The following three numbers are all drawn from 2018’s Enjoy The Ride, starting with the blues-soaked title track with Tex’s harp featured over a wash of wah guitar and keys. “Temporary Insanity” adds Albert Lee’s guitar to the mix as Jim sets the pace on piano and the horns underline the chorus well before Joey Delgado guests on “Bring The Walls Down”, Deb adopting a deeper tone that suits the dark lyrics of the song. Deb goes back to her 2014 debut for the title track “You Might Just Get Lucky”, a slow, late night tune with Jim’s jazzy piano the main instrument, backed by quiet harmonica, bass and brushed drums, before heading down to New Orleans with “La Misère” and a second appearance by Albert Lee as Tony sets the second line rhythm expertly on a tune drawn from the 2015 album Let It Rain. “Goodbye Baby” is the final cut from Enjoy The Ride, a tune with a funky backbeat and stinging guitar from Artur Menezes, Deb ridding herself of an unsatisfactory partner with unbridled enthusiasm.

The second half of the album contains four tunes from Deb’s last studio album, Memphis Moonlight, all featuring full band productions with the horns playing a significant role. “Get Ready” is a strong song but slightly marred (to these ears) by the echoey treatment given to Deb’s voice on the chorus; “I’m Coming Home” is a celebratory song about getting off the road and back home; “Hold On” is an attractive rocker with solid harp and horns; “Blues Is All I Got” makes a good closing song with Deb’s strong vocal matched by a pounding band performance. The other songs are “Guilty Of Sin” from Let It Rain which finds Deb confronting her unfaithful friend, Tex’s harp adding a definite blues edge to the story; “Prisoner Of War” is the sole selection from 2017’s Grit, Grease And Tears, the horns sitting this one out as the rhythm section provides a Slim Harpo style opening to the track as Deb encourages us all to “make love, not war”; “Any Bottle On The Shelf” is a second new tune, Deb declaring that she does “my drinking by myself, just practising self-help”, Albert Lee making his third and final appearance with a typically understated, country-tinged solo, Tex, Jim and Johnny Lee also getting short solo features.

There is plenty to enjoy on this album, good musicianship, all original songs well sung by their creator, Deb Ryder.

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