Kat Riggins – Progeny
CD: 13 Songs, 50 Minutes
Styles: Contemporary Electric Blues Rock, Soul Blues, All Original Songs
A word to the wise: Don’t let the free-flowing, soft-glowing pastel cover design of powerhouse songstress Kat Riggins’ latest CD fool you (like it did me). From its first notes, Progeny proves to be a hard-knocking, norm-shocking, blues-rocking statement. It’s not so much entertainment as exhortation, calling us to be our highest selves instead of “Sinking Low” (reviewed below). It’s also part of the personal movement Riggins calls a “Blues Revival,” and it’s got that spirit. Collective. Compelling. Most of all, contagious. These thirteen songs will worm their way into your head, heart and soul. A wide variety of styles – rock, soul, slow blues, funk and ballads – allows Riggins to display the full range of her talents. She goes from soothing to searing in seconds. If there’s any occlusion in this gem of an album, it’s that sometimes the instrumentation overpowers the lyrics. Kat’s got a message, and by golly, she’s going to be all-caps HEARD.
What is a “Blues Revival” anyway? According to Kat, it is a musical revolution that aims to awaken the masses and introduce them to the sincerity behind blues music. “It’s about the raw emotion in every note,” exclaims Kat Riggins as she attempts to describe her love of the genre. During a meet-and-greet after a sold-out show in Belgium, a fan once jokingly asked Kat if ever there was a time she “phoned it in” to avoid ending up exhausted, sweaty and bruised from the tambourine… “If I can move someone to feel what I feel when I sing a song, then it’s all worth it”, said the Miami born singer-songwriter.
Riggins isn’t the sole flame of brilliance available. Infernal blues guitar sensations Albert Castiglia and Mike Zito feature as well. Her stalwart “Warriors” include Melody Angel on guitar, Busta Free on rap break, Matt Johnson on drums, Doug Byrkit on bass, and Lewis Stephens on piano, organ, and keyboards.
Picking a single highlight out of this lucky baker’s dozen is like trying to decide which gourmet donut is the best. My first favorite is the second track, “Sinking Low.” With an ominous tick-tock beat and minor-key menace, it describes our current chaotic state of affairs. “Here we are – drowning in the noise, surrounded by the darkness. We can’t see which way is up, no, ‘cause we keep sinking low. We keep sinking low.” The hard-rock anthem “Warriors” reminds us there are always people in our corner, no matter our circumstances. “In My Blood” boils with NOLA spice, a short and savory homage to Kat’s kinfolk. “My City” crackles with urbane life on all fronts: vocal, instrumental, lyrical, and atmospheric. Last but not least comes a revelatory warning in “40 25:40.” One day, the Bible tells us, we’ll be separated on the right hand and the left of the Son of Man. The criterion for judgment? “What you do to the least of men, that, you do to Me.” It’s a bookend to “Sinking Low.” If we don’t love one another, we’ll certainly drown in hatred.
One more incentive to pick up Progeny:
It’s on the Grammy ballot for Best Contemporary Blues Album of the Year!