Demetria Taylor – Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do
12 songs – 52 minutes
Doin’ What I’m Supposed To Do, Demetria Taylor’s second Delmark release after 2011’s Bad Girl, is a hugely impressive and enjoyable mix of Chicago blues and modern R&B. With a nice blend of originals and well-chosen covers, pristine engineering and mixing by Julia A. Walker at the Delmark Riverside Studio and superb performances by all the musicians, the album underscores why Taylor was the 2022 recipient of the KoKo Taylor “Queen Of The Blues” Award given by the Jus’ Blues Foundation.
Taylor’s band is top drawer: Melvin Carlisle on drums, Larry Williams on bass, Brian James on keyboards and Mike Wheeler and Carlos Showers on guitar. In addition, there are guest appearances by Deitra Farr on one song and Billy Flynn on two songs. As you would expect from such an ensemble, they provide consistently subtle, muscular and dynamic support to Taylor’s excellent voice, while also being given ample opportunity to shine in their respective solo slots.
The opening track, “83 Highway” was written by Taylor’s father and originally released in 1972 as “Wreck on 83 Highway”. Taylor’s interpretation benefits from inspired piano from James and some typically powerful guitar from Flynn. It is immediately followed by the funky R&B of Wheeler’s “Baby Be Good” and “Bad Girl Day” (featuring a marvelous bass line from Williams) and Taylor is wholly comfortable with one foot in each camp. On the syncopated title track, her voice is both assertive and yet beguiling at the same time.
“Blues Early This Morning”, written by Taylor’s mother, sees her in a joyful duet with Farr while also highlighting Flynn’s classic Chicago single note blues phrasing. “Welfare Blues” has great solos from James and Wheeler. It’s worth noting however that this isn’t an album of mere technical virtuosity and endless solos. The musicians serve the song first and foremost, but when they do take solos, they do not waste a note. They are also adept at adding little licks such as the Steve Cropper-esque fills on “Done” that enhance the vocal melody. Likewise, the funky rhythm guitar on the Taylor original, “Nursing My Kitty Cat”, really adds impetus to the song, as does James’ rollicking piano.
Perhaps the best-known cover is Magic Sam’s “You Belong To Me” which is given a shot of R&B whilst retaining the original vocal melody. The album closes with the jaunty, self-penned and autobiographical “Young Gun Taylor” with more fine playing from Wheeler and James in particular.
Doin What I’m Supposed To Do is an apt title for what is a commanding release by Demetria Taylor. Well worth investigating.