Hippie Love Slave – God Is Testing Me | Album Review

hippieloveslavecdHippie Love Slave – God Is Testing Me

Real Music Records – 2015

12 tracks; 44 minutes


Kathryn Grimm is another player from the thriving Portland, Oregon, blues scene.  Kathryn sings lead, plays guitar and occasional keyboards and wrote most of the material on this album which is the debut for her electric blues project Hippie Love Slave. The core players are Fizzle on bass, Jim Hardin on drums, Bill Heston on keys but a number of additional players contribute: Alan Alexander III and Michael Sunday replace Fizzle on one track each and Rob Canny and Charlie take over the drum stool on three tracks.  Lynn Knight plays fiddle on one tune, Ronnie Taylor sax on two and Rosemary Bell adds percussion to one cut.

The album opens with the traditional gospel tones of “Trouble Of This World”, Kathryn singing the first verse with minimal accompaniment before the band enters on the second verse to give the tune an electric treatment and making a great start to the album.  “Going Back” finds Kathryn is fine voice as she reminisces about the ‘good old days’ when she “did’nt have a worried mind and I did not think about you all the time”.  Fizzle’s bass is outstanding here and provides a superb platform for Kathryn’s guitar solo which she herself introduces as if it were a live performance – great track.

Ronnie’s breathy sax introduces the uptempo “The Way I Feel”, Bill’s organ sounding very 60’s here.  “Running All Over Town”, a co-write with Alexandria Carey, has an interesting combination of additional percussion and fiddle behind Kathryn’s sweeping vocals before a short and sweet take on “Mary Had A Little Lamb” (here attributed to Buddy Guy) which allows us to hear Kathryn’s skills on guitar.

“The Only Weapon We Need Is Love” definitely suits the name of the band with its plea for peace, love and understanding –fine sentiments over a pleasant soundtrack.

The title track is a full-on production with plenty of backing vocals, swirling organ, strong rhythm guitar work and a fine Santana-esque solo; again, not blues but a strong performance.  It is interesting that these two tracks are the ones on which Fizzle does not play bass and are the furthest away from the blues.  Fizzle is present for the rest of the album and “You Used To Be My King” is an upbeat rocker with Kathryn lamenting the loss of her lover and expressing her emotions in a torrid solo. The third cover is Gary Moore’s “Midnight Blues” which Kathryn plays pretty straight with a searing solo.

The rocking “Mama Told Me Not To Lie” finds Kathryn double tracking vocals and guitars as well as adding keyboards and certainly gets the feet tapping.  Carlos ‘Guitarlos’ Ayala wrote the lyrics, Kathryn the music for “That’s Not A Real Man” and its choppy Latin rhythm propels the tune well, the core solo from Kathryn ringing out in dramatic fashion.  The album closes with the acoustic “My Voice”, embellished by Ronnie’s sax and taking a defiant stand to establish our individuality: “Together we could be like a tiny army, shouting to the world ‘I’m here and I’m a pearl’.  In this gigantic sea you can’t ignore me; it all begins with a choice and my voice.”

There is plenty of promise in this debut album which is not all blues but always interesting.

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