Regina Royale Records – 2015
13 tracks; 56 minutes
Boston’s Diane Blue will probably be known to most readers from her vocal contributions to Ronnie Earl’s most recent albums and Ronnie repays the favor by playing on five cuts on Diane’s latest CD under her own name. Diane is also a fine harp player and she is backed here by fellow Broadcasters Dave Limina (keys) and Lorne Entress (drums) who play on all tracks with Jesse Williams on bass and Bobby Gus on guitar; they are joined on four tracks by Scott Shetler on sax and John Moriconi on trumpet. Another fine Boston area singer Tony Lynn Washington adds vocals to four tracks. Diane wrote five songs for the album and there are covers from a wide variety of sources. The album was recorded and mixed in Rhode Island by Jack Gauthier.
The album opens with Diane’s “That’s What They Call The Blues” and Ronnie’s distinctive guitar tone is immediately obvious on this up-tempo shuffle which could easily have been a track on Ronnie’s last album “Father’s Day”, a great start to the album. Nina Simone’s “Do I Move You?” is an oft-covered song but Diane’s version is a strong one, Bobby’s subtle guitar a feature and Dave shining on both organ and piano. “Ain’t Nothing You Can Do” is here credited to Bobby Womack but this reviewer knows it as a Deadric Malone/Joe Scott tune. What is incontestable is that this was one of Bobby Bland’s biggest hits and this is an outstanding cover, Diane sharing vocals with the deeper voiced Tony Lynn and the horns making their first appearance, Bobby again showing his ability on guitar. Ronnie returns on the ballad “In The Dark” (L Green), a tune that suits his style wonderfully and one that Diane sings very well indeed with touches of jazz, gospel and blues all meshed together. Diane dips into the Nina Simone songbook a second time on “I Love Your Lovin’ Ways” (S Benjamin/S Marcus), a soulful rocker with Dave’s piano leading the way. Diane’s “Someday Soon” ups the gospel factor with Dave’s stately organ intro leading into Diane’s impassioned vocal supplemented by the bright horn arrangement and a feature for Diane’s harp playing.
“Soulville” is a Dinah Washington song once covered by Aretha Franklin and Diane’s short but sweet version straddles the two with a horn-driven jump feel merged with Diane’s soulful vocal. Diane sticks with Aretha for Curtis Lewis’ “Today I Sing The Blues”, providing a magnificent gospel vocal, Ronnie Earl’s blues licks adding to the drama of the piece. Diane’s harp leads on the jaunty shuffle “Day And Night” before a trio of her own songs: first we have the minor key “I Can’t Shake You” which has some of the moody underlying chords of the earlier “Do I Move You?” with Ronnie’s lead lines on top, Diane singing of how difficult she is finding it to get this guy off her mind; “Man About Town”, a co-write with Bobby Gus, is more upbeat and uptempo, Dave’s rock and roll piano setting the tone which is then taken up by Diane’s hard-hitting harp and Bobby’s ringing guitar solos; churchy keyboard work opens “Cry Daddy”, a sad story about a little girl who has lost her mother but remains stronger than her father – a beautifully told story that can hardly fail to move the listener. This one is gospel, country and blues all wrapped up together into an absolute cracker of an original song. It is difficult to see how Diane can top that one but with Tony Lynn sharing vocals they put together a great version of Koko Taylor’s “Jump For Joy” that summarizes all the elements on the album – the horns are back, Dave excels on organ and Ronnie and Bobby share some exciting ensemble guitar work.
An album with a bit of everything: blues, gospel, soul, R n’ B; a solid core band with some fine guest appearances; solid choice of cover material and five good originals. This is a CD that comes with a ‘recommended’ tag.