Kathryn Grimm – Blues Tools
Self-Release – 2019
12 tracks; 50 minutes
Back in 2016 I reviewed a disc by Hippie Love Slave, the lead singer/guitarist/composer being Kathryn Grimm. Three years later Kathryn is back, this time under her own name, with an album of nine originals, one traditional gospel tune and two covers. Kathryn handles lead vocals and guitar with a range of musicians in support: drums are by Charlie Swift, Robin James and Jim Hardin, bass by Kelly Swift and Michael Sunday, keys are by Aidean Abounasseri (who also produced), sax on six tracks are by Fenix Sanders and Johny Powell; Teri Untalan adds B/Vs to one track and, on an older track, the late Jeff Buckley plays slide guitar alongside Mark Frere on bass. Phil Klahn and Jason Driver are also credited for their engineering work and occasional keys and B/V’s and Sonny Hess plays guitar on one track and adds B/V’s to two.
The CD definitely grows on you with repeat listening. Two songs are reprized from the Hippie Love Slave album and both are winners: the traditional gospel tones of “Trouble Of This World” has Kathryn singing the first verse with minimal accompaniment before the band enters on the second verse to give the tune a full electric treatment, including some wah-wah from Kathryn; based on an incident when her van was stolen with all her gear inside, “God Is Testing Me” is a full-on production with plenty of backing vocals, swirling organ, strong rhythm guitar work and a Santana-esque solo. Another latin groove here is “Talking To The Wind”, again graced by a fine solo.
Across the album Kathryn shows herself to be a versatile writer with opener “You Make Me So Happy I Can’t Sing The Blues” looking at how difficult it is to write a blues song if you are essentially content while “C’mon Home” reverts to a classic blues tale of a relationship gone sour. The uptempo “Love Gun” has a great sax solo and “Gone” sounds naggingly familiar though it’s an original, another one with sax and a very nice guitar break, Kathryn this time taking control and readying herself to walk away from the guy.
A couple of songs do challenge Kathryn’s vocal range: “Empty Space” is a laid-back ballad with fine flute work by Johny, “Miss Celie’s Blues” is a Quincy Jones song from The Color Purple movie, a jazzy piece with good accompaniment.
The other cover is “Hot Date With Buzz”, written by bassist Mark Frere and featuring the late Jeff Buckley, well worth hearing for his searing slide work, the subject matter about a woman in a serious relationship with her vibrator being pretty amusing too!
There are several very good performances across the album and Kathryn shows herself to be a strong writer, as well as a good guitarist.