Gráinne Duffy – Voodoo Blues
Gráinne Duffy is an Irish blues rocker who offers the listener slick guitar work and impassioned vocals. Specializing in blues, soul and Americana, Duffy writes all her own music and sings with a Celtic sort of Memphis soul. Playing electric and acoustic guitar, Duffy grew up early on in a home with no TV but with a record player. After listening to the likes of music from Aretha Franklin to The Rolling Stones and The Pretenders, Duffy then discovered Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac. Her foundation in his electric blues is evident in her music. She obtained a music degree at NUI, Maynooth, Ireland and has extensively toured the UK and the continent of Europe.
Now in the fourteenth year of her career, this is Duffy’s fifth album. She does all the vocal work and plays guitar and acoustic guitar. Also on guitar is Paul Sherry. Dale Davis is on bass and Troy Miller is on drums and Hammond organ. Ronan Morgan backs her vocally on two tracks. Miller also produced and engineered the CD. Duffy and Sherry co-wrote all the tracks.
Things start off with the title track, a rocking cut where Duffy howls out the lead and backing vocals and the guitar and bass drive the cut along smartly. Duffy sings with passion in this cut not made for the faint of heart- a big performance. “Mercy” is the next cut, a short rocker where Gráinne begs her lover for mercy for her errors and the song seems to be a form of rocking “make-up sex.” “In “Blue Skies” we have a bouncing, rock anthem sort of cut as Duffy forthrightly leads with her vocals as the guitar and backline sets a groove for her. Guitar and organ fill out the cut nicely, too. Up next we have “Shine It On Me” where the guitar plays a bigger role, responding to Duffy’s calls. A medium tempo-ed pacing, a little acoustic guitar and Hammond organ, more fine vocals and a big electric guitar lead and solo make this one cool. “Roll It” rounds out the first half of the songs. A nice rhythm, a rocking sound and an emphatic delivery by Duffy help sell this cut.
“Wreck It” begins with some heavy guitar and Duffy comes in with a breathy but big delivery of her lines as she promises, “we’re gonna wreck it all.” A driving cut with a big but restrained guitar solo will gets heads bobbing and feet tapping. Duffy and Morgan fill in on vocals to make the sound richer. “No Matter What I Do” takes the tempo down a few notches in this ballad with guitar and vocals offering up a composed start to the cut. Things build on the choruses as Gráinne claims that, “No matter what I do, I come back to you.” The electric guitar work is really sweet here and more than once in a while we hear the layers of guitar making things more musically appealing and interesting. Following that we have “Tick Tock,” with the sound of a wind-up alarm clock that opens the piece to set the pace. More rocking good stuff here as Duffy and the lead guitar musically spar. Big guitar and more well-done vocals are featured here as the song builds into a frenzied dervish before the song drives to conclusion and then the clock fades us out. The album concludes with “Hard Rain.” Here we have more of what Duffy excels at: singing with deep emotion. The music throbs along to a steady and forthright beat, making the listener’s heart seem to get in synch with the song. Things close with a mix of semi-distorted organ and guitar pedal work mixed to drive us to an interesting finish.
There is a lot more rock than what I’d call straight up blues here, but it’s well done, the songs are crafted nicely, and the vocal work is great. If you like your blues rock more heavily leaning to the rock side, then this one’s for you. Here we have an album of all original stuff that grabs the listener and shows them what Duffy and the band are made of. Only one song tops four minutes; this is old-school songs where you’re presented with the idea, the chorus makes some sort of confirmation, you get another verse, repeat the chorus and in most cases your done. There is no dilly dallying about here, it’s driving tunes that give you what you need to hear and they are done. Duffy quickly gets her ideas and points across both musically and thematically; it is actually refreshing not to have the cuts pointlessly drag on as they do on some albums. I liked this album and it served as a cool introduction for me to Gráinne Duffy; I hope to be able to see her and her band live some day soon.