Judy Sings The Blues – Born A Sinner
10 tracks 40 minutes
Judy Sings The Blues is a modern funky blues-rock band based in Lewes, Delaware, and Born A Sinner is the band’s first release. Featuring eight self-penned songs and two covers, the album contains more than enough to suggest a bright future for the band.
The album opens with the funky (and excellently titled) “My Name Ain’t Baby” with nice clipped guitar from Eric Zoeckler as the rhythm section of Carl Thompson (bass) and James Sudimak (drums) lay down a tight groove. Singer Judy Mangini has a warm, powerful voice that suits the material perfectly. “Until That Sucker’s Dead” mines a similar vein (both in the funky edge and the excellent title). The album has a solid mix of the upbeat (such as “Dirty Girl” and “I Like The Way”, with its irresistible drive and a full-bore rock guitar solo from Zoeckler) as well as slower tracks such as the very impressive title track, with a particularly powerful vocal performance by Mangini.
The band is usually a four-piece band but the sound on the album is filled out by guest appearances from Cody Leavel (saxophone on six songs); Dan Long (keyboards on five songs). In addition, Ken Windle adds lead guitar to “Help Me” and Lin Doughten plays lead guitar on “Fever”, “Born A Sinner” and “Tricks”.
The two covers on Born A Sinner are Eddie Cooley and Otis Blackwell’s “Fever” (played with impressive restraint by the entire band with some tasty sax from Leavel) and Lowell Fulson’s 1950 classic, “Sinner’s Prayer”, which is transformed from the original piano-led lament to a grinding heavy blue-rock song (imagine an angry Billy Gibbons playing on Alannah Myles’ “Black Velvet”).
Born A Sinner is a very interesting album, evolving over its length from the funky modern blues-rock of the first couple of songs to a much heavier slant after the mid-way point. The ballad “Tricks” with Mangini’s heavily-processed voice, Zoeckler’s chorused guitar and Windle’s over-driven guitar solo has echoes of the Alan Parsons Project (or even Robert Plant in some of Mangini’s howls on the outro). The wah-wah’ed riffage and prominent keys of “Help Me” give the song more than a hint or two of the funkier mid-1970s versions of Deep Purple.
“Dirty Girl” is a flat-out rock song with overdriven guitar, honking sax and lyrics that are either hilarious or deeply uncomfortable, depending on one’s perspective, while “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” builds from Thompson’s gentle opening single note bassline to a soaring, roaring arena-sized power ballad with a really fine vocal performance from Mangini.
Judy Sings The Blues are an impressive outfit and, on the evidence of Born A Sinner, they must be tremendous fun in a live environment. It’s a bit of a stretch to call this a blues album although the blues clearly underpins much of the material. If however your tastes lean towards the traditional blues-rock end of the spectrum, with a healthy dose of funk thrown in for good measure, you will want to check out this album.