Marie Martens & the Messarounds – Travelled | Album Review

Marie Martens & the Messarounds – Travelled

Self-produced CD

13 songs – 52 minutes

Based out of Salem, Wis., a few miles north of the Cheddar Curtain from Illinois, Marie Martens is a veteran vocalist, slide guitarist and keyboard player who makes her debut as a front person after a lengthy career in Europe.

A native of Sweden who possesses a strong, but limited alto voice, Martens has toured extensively across Scandinavia, Germany, the U.K. and Japan, and her background includes a lengthy stay as bassist for the Surfin’ Gorillas, a band founded in Stockholm in 1996 and still touring today out of its current base along the south coast of England.

This album was captured at Excello Recording in Brooklyn, N.Y., with Marie delivering a mix of four originals and nine covers from a wide variety of sources, ranging from Mississippi Fred McDowell to Otis Rush and Mose Allison. She’s backed here by Ronnie “TwoTimes” Cacioppo on percussion and vocals, Jimmy B Natural on electric and upright bass and Tom Selear on drums. They’re assisted by Brian Mitchel on piano and Hugh Pool on percussion for one cut each.

The original, “Change My Ways,” opens the action, built atop a heavy drumbeat with a traditional, heavy guitar feel. Martens alternates slide and intermittent single-note runs throughout as she heads south to escape her troubles. A straight-ahead cover of Rush’s familiar “Keep on Loving Me” follows, and the sound brightens dramatically, before the self-penned “Mama Won’t Allow Me” comes across with a driving boogie beat.

The Eddie Turner classic, “Bad Boy,” turns up the funk, but both the vocals and some of the single-note fretwork are somewhat off-key while the slide-powered original, “Movin’ On,” sounds as if it could have been recorded in the ‘60s. The opening to McDowell’s “Kokomo Blues” is delivered in a whisper before erupting into a driving rocker before a take on Allison’s “Parchman Farm” – a reinvention of a 1940 Bukka White recording – falls flat.

The final original, “Later Baby,” precedes a run of six more covers — the Ruth Brown standard “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean,” B.B. King’s “Walkin’ and Cryin’,” Jimi Hendrix’s “Room Full of Mirrors,” Hound Dog Taylor’s “Give Me Back My Wig” and the Rolling Stones’ “Ventilator Blues” – to bring the disc to a merciful close.

Available through CDBaby, Travelled needs more road time. The overall delivery mirrors a bar band on a bad night.

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