Markey Blue Ric Latina Project – Jumpin’ the Broom | Album Review

Markey Blue Ric Latina Project – Jumpin’ the Broom

SoulOSound Records

10 songs – 40 minutes

Since meeting by chance in the early 2010s, vocalist Jeannette Markey and guitarist/songwriting partner Ric Latina have proven to be a major force in the Nashville music scene and each other’s lives, too. In addition to earning awards nominations for their three previous releases, their business relationship blossomed into a romance sealed by marriage three years ago – something they celebrate on this aptly titled disc of all-original, contemporary blues.

A former Las Vegas showgirl, singer, actress and stand-up comedienne originally from Hemet, Calif., Markey’s spent most of her adult life performing with a who’s who of talent – everyone from Bob Hope, Phyllis Diller, Frank Sinatra and ex-hubby Rich Little to Candye Kane, Coco Montoya, Taj Mahal and Anson Funderburgh to name a few. She possesses a searing and dynamic set of pipes and equally impressive stage presence.

Heavily influenced by Robben Ford, Larry Carlton and B.B. King, Latina’s a native of Coventry, R.I., who uses notes sparingly but with plenty of emotion. Formerly one of the top session players in Music City, he spent decades working in support of country giants Waylon Jennings, Hank Williams III, Suzy Bogguss and others, and fronting his own band, The Bomb Squad – which delivered R&B, jazz and blues-rock, when not touring.

After meeting at a showcase at which they both were booked to back other artists, Markey and Ric launched a songwriting project that resulted in a four-tune EP. When they served as the opening act for Memphis giant Steve Cropper one night, he fell so hard for one of their songs that he insisted he couldn’t get it out of his head. Their resulting relationship proved so strong that he penned the liner notes for Hey Hey, which a 2015 Blues Blast Music Award nominee for best debut album of the year.

Two more albums – The Blues Are Knockin’ and Raised in Muddy Water – have continued their ascendency, earning them a 2016 BBMA Sean Costello Rising Star Award nomination and multiple other honors along the way. In addition to radio airplay around the globe, their tunes also appear regularly in soundtracks on mainstream TV, major streaming services and movies.

Markey and Latina penned all ten tracks of this one, which was recorded at Brick House Studios and The Colemine Studio in Nashville. They’re backed by former Charlie Daniels Band keyboard player Shannon Wickline, horn and flute player Chris West, bassist Randy Coleman and percussionist Dave Northrup with guest appearances from Mark T. Jordan on keys and Dana Robbins on sax for one cut each.

“Bad for Real,” an unhurried, deep blues, opens the action with a funky run on the six-string from Ric before Markey launches into lyrics about a guy who’s gambled away his money and lost his woman, too. He cries the night away while listening in his head to Lady Luck urging that he come out again and play. Romantic problems continue in “Hanging On,” a soulfully jazzy complaint from a lady that she doesn’t want to hear her man telling her everything she’s done wrong – even though she admits he might be right – because they’re too far gone and she’s not that strong. Her pain’s also expressed through Latina’s passionate runs.

The action heats a little for “When It’s Blue,” a driving, horn-fueled shuffle that cautions about straying from the Golden Rule about doing no wrong when you think you can do no wrong, and continues in “Little Betty,” which describes a gal who parties hardy all night, but won’t play with boys who kiss and tell. It flows effortlessly into “Be With Me,” which insists it’s gonna take a “whole lotta lovin’” to get the job done.

Things quiet again for “Lowdown Voodoo Woman,” a haunting ballad about a lady who casts her spell so quickly that she’s already finished before you know what’s going on. The funk kicks up a notch for “You Got the Blues,” which suggests that life isn’t so bad as it often seems, before Robbins adds a little sparkle “Right Kind of Woman,” a Latin-flavored number that describes being in love with the wrong kind of man. Two more pleasers — “Crying Out Loud,” a ballad of acceptance of life’s struggles aided by Jordan, and “Where Are You,” a country-tinged ballad – bring the set to a close.

Jumpin’ the Broom is contemporary blues at its best. It’s a roller coaster ride of emotions that shines throughout.

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