Debra Power – I’m Not From Chicago
Self-Released – 2022
10 Tracks; 44 minutes
Debra Power is a dynamic pianist from Canada with a powerful voice and excellent songwriting skills. She took home Calgary’s award for Blues Recording of the Year for her debut album, Even Redheads Get the Blues, and has been both a semi-finalist and a finalist in the International Songwriting Competition. She has also been a semi-finalist in the solo/duo category in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis and was nominated for Best New Artist at the Maple Blues Awards in 2017.
Power collaborated with some excellent musicians for her latest album, “I’m Not From Chicago”. For example, the late Harpdog Brown joined her on harmonica, Mike Clark played saxophone, and Steve Pineo is featured on guitar, and throughout the album their solos are all extremely tasteful. Additionally, guest singer Keeshea Pratt joins Power for a duet. Their beautiful song, “What Colour is Love,” also delivers a powerful message about racial prejudice which is much needed in these times of increased hate speech.
The album features all originals (with one exception) and includes a variety of tempos and moods. “The Last Time I Saw Memphis” is an intriguing story of a drunken night in Memphis and a spooky close encounter with what might have been Elvis’ ghost. The title track is noted to be inspired by Gil Anthony, who is also not from Chicago but also loves the blues, and “The Woman with the Hole in Her Heart” accurately describes the depression many felt secondary to the COVID lockdown.
The album ends with two amusing songs. The first is about people who carry too much emotional baggage around with them, and the final song has an “old-timey” feel to it, as Power reminisces about how mother would use both her first and middle name to let her know she was in trouble. (“Debra Marie—get in this house. Debra Marie—you’d better watch your mouth!”)
The only relative weakness of the album is that Power sometimes emphasizes the amusing story-telling quality of her voice to the degree that melodic tone can be sacrificed. However, her singing abilities are clearly evident in two songs: “The Woman with the Hole in her Heart” and “The Colour of Love”.
Overall, “I’m Not From Chicago” is a very enjoyable album, and it seems clear that it will bring Debra Power even more notoriety.