Kat Riggins – Cry Out
Gulf Coast Records – 2020
13 tracks; 46 minutes
This is Floridian Kat Riggins’ fourth album release but her debut on Gulf Coast where label co-owner Mike Zito is heavily involved as producer and guitarist; Mike is also credited as ‘composer’, alongside Kat as ‘writer’, so one assumes that these are Kat’s songs arranged by Mike, with assistance on five songs from Steve Van Der Nat (of Dutch band Little Steve and The Big Beat) and on two by Andreas Carre. Alongside Mike on guitar are Lewis Stephens on keys, Doug Byrkit on bass and Brian Zielie on drums; Johnny Sansone adds harp to two tracks and Eric Demmer (sax) and Fernando Castillo (trumpet) add punch to a few cuts.
Kat emphasizes how grateful she is to Gulf Coast for seeking her out, not for her chart history or potential sales, but for the quality of her voice and she certainly underlines that throughout the album, perhaps no better than on the title track “Cry Out”, a plea for help for the less fortunate in our society – the poor, the hungry, the neglected: “Cry out for America, cry out for the Vets… cry out somebody please”. With strong harp and guitar this is a standout track. Another key song is “Heavy” which pleads for a more caring society over a gentle arrangement with warm keyboards and dobro. The song is preceded by a short acapella version of the traditional gospel song “Hand In The Hand” and the gospel feel is continued in “Heavy”, especially in the ending with a choir of very young voices that includes Kat’s niece and nephews.
Much of the album is at the rock end of the blues spectrum, as on opener “Son Of A Gun” in which Kat states that she is not to be messed with, propelled by military drums and dirty guitar riffs: “If I were a man they’d call me a son of a gun, ‘cos I’d drop you where you stand”. “Catching Up” is a real rocker with plenty of solid riffing giving the tune a Stones feel. Kat falls victim to the falseness of someone with a “Wicked Tongue” before the horns return on “Can You See Me Now”, both tunes featuring lots of guitars (fellow Gulf Coast axeman Albert Castiglia shares guitar duties on “Wicked Tongue”). A funky rhythm is well supported by horns on “Meet Your Maker” and Kat fervently wants to be the other person’s “Truth” over chugging guitar work.
Kat wants to “Burn It All Down” when she is fooled by someone, Mike’s riff providing a solid core over which an overdubbed second guitar solos impressively on one of the longer tracks. The final three tracks offer a nice range: “On Its Way” is a short but sweet rocker with the horns underlining the chorus that offers a positive vision of the future, the ecstatic sax solo catching the feel nicely; slide and harp are appropriate accompaniment to the ‘Devil at the Crossroads’ tale with a twist, “No Sale”, in which Kat chooses not to sell her soul to Old Nick; finally Kat declares that anyone who crosses her will feel her wrath, she is “The Storm” and her powerful vocals, brooding guitar and a slower-paced tune make a dramatic finale to the album.
Kat has a great voice for this kind of music, enough grit and depth without resorting to shouting and screaming, always maintaining control. Whilst there is a lot of rocky material here there are plenty of touches of blues and gospel also.