Kathy and the Kilowatts – Premonition of Love
13 tracks / 48:43
Austin is the music capital of Texas, and Kathy Murray is a wonderful representative for the blues in this fine city. Kathy got to experience the heyday of the blues scene there while collecting albums from blues masters and learning everything possible from them. As she started performing, Kathy got to share the stage with true blues heroes such as Koko Taylor, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Albert Collins, Bobby “Blue” Bland, Albert King, and W.C. Clark. Over the decades she has released a number of very good albums, and recently signed with Nola Blue Records.
Kathy fronts the Kilowatts, and her right hand man in this group is guitarist Bill “Monster” Jones, who also happens to be her husband. The band’s latest Nola Blue Records release is Premonition of Love, which was recorded by Jack Miele at Music Shed Studios in New Orleans, and engineered by Jeff Botta at Single Pitch Studios in Austin. Quite a crew showed up to help out in the studio, including Kathy’s label mate, Benny Turner, who laid down some of the bass tracks. Other contributors were Dylan Cavaliere and Jeff Botta on bass, Richard Ross and Nina Singh with drums/percussion, Floyd Domino and Matt Farrell on the piano, and the horns of Dan Torosian and Eric Johnson.
Premonition of Love has thirteen tracks, most of which were written by Kathy, and she put a lot of thought and quick wit into them. A fine example is the opener, “First Do No Harm,” which is the first song I’ve ever heard that namedrops Hippocrates. This tune features Kathy’s sultry voice over Botta’s fat bass line, fun leads from Jones, and the well-arranged horn accompaniment. After this, the songs cover an assortment of blues genres that can be heard in the lands between Austin and New Orleans.
The title track is a fat slice of Freddy King-inspired blues with a touch of funk, and Kathy’s voice has an amazing growl as she describes her “Premonition of Love.” There is an Otis Rush feel to “Beggars Can’t be Choosy,” which includes a return of the horns, sharp guitar licks from Jones, and tight bass from Benny Turner. Continuing to draw from the masters, Kathy added a Bo Diddley beat to “Answer Yes,” which has cool interludes with just the bass, drums, and vocals; this instrumentation provides a subtle contrast to some of the more complicated tracks on the album.
There is also some rockabilly to be found here, and “Grow Some” has wonderful piano from Matt Farrell to accompany Kathy’s sexy voice. “I Got This” is a great example of a Texas shuffle that includes a cool piano solo from Floyd Domino. And Kathy hoots up a storm in “Always Fooling Me,” a guitar and horn-driven funky soul song. There is a little something here for anyone that likes the blues!
Kathy and the Kilowatts also run down three neat cover tunes that fit well into this set. One of these is “Black Nights,” a 1960 Lowell Fulson tune that was written by Fats Washington and is presented as a slow-grinding blues tune. There is also a modernized funky re-do of “What Have I Done Wrong,” a 1968 song from Magic Sam. And there is even a little bayou magic thrown in with Cleveland Crochet’s “Sugar Bee,” which in 1960 was the first Cajun song to crack the Billboard Top 100. Jones shows versatility here as he sets the mood with his squeezebox, and Kathy’s vocals have a cool distortion effect added in to help make this song her own.
Kathy Murray and the Kilowatts put together a fine album with Premonition of Love, and its thirteen solid tracks each have a satisfying mix of vintage and traditional blues themes. The songs are playful and sexy, and you can check out some samples of the bands’ music at their website so you can get a better feel for where they are coming from. Also, if you are going to be in Austin be sure look over the band’s list of shows as there are a few coming up before the end of the year!