Pretty Good For A Girl Records
11 songs – 48 minutes
It is 2017. Women are the elected leaders of 17 countries around the world, including Germany, the UK, Norway and Switzerland. A female candidate came very close to becoming President of the USA last year. Women lead international corporations, global law firms and world-leading Universities. We even have a female Doctor Who. Yet the gender pay gap continues to widen. And women in the arts continue to be treated like second class citizens. It is nearly 300 years since Samuel Johnson’s famous line about women: “Sir, a woman’s preaching is like a dog’s walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all.” In 2017, do we still have to listen to the same old sexist bull that tells us that Laura Chavez is a great “female guitarist”; or be enticed to see live blues music on the basis that there are girls with guitars? Haven’t we learned anything from the lessons laid down by Sister Rosetta Tharpe or Big Mama Thornton?
Apparently not, because here we are in 2017 and a talent as shining as Mindi Abair is still so frustrated with the system that she named her production company Pretty Good For A Girl Records and included a song with that name on her new, utterly essential album, The EastWest Sessions.
Singer/saxophonist Abair released eight solo albums before teaming up with The Boneshakers in 2015 to record and release Mindi Abair And The Boneshakers LIVE in Seattle. Named after the Hollywood recording studio where the tracks were recorded, The EastWest Sessions is the band’s second album and features 11 blistering R’n’B-rock-blues-soul tracks, nine of which were written by Abair and the band.
From the funky opener, “Vinyl” to the closing acoustic country-pop joy of “I Love To Play The Saxophone”, there isn’t a duff track on this album. The anthemic rock of “Play To Win” and “Had To Learn The Hard Way” feature choruses that lodges in your brain and just won’t let go. The slow blues grind of the title track contains top class dueling between Abair and guest guitarist, Joe Bonamassa. Former Was Not Was and Bonnie Raitt singer, Sweet Pea Atkinson, provides ageless lead vocals to the old Sly Stone soul ballad, “Let Me Hear It From You” and takes the song to a different place. “I’m Not That Kind Of Girl” and “Freedom” are riotous instrumentals while “Live My Life” alternates instrumental verses with funky vocal choruses. Fantastic Negrito guests on his own dark and brooding “She Don’t Cry No More”.
Abair is a fine singer and an outstanding sax player, and she is backed by a band of rare power and finesse. Featuring Randy Jacobs on guitar, Rodney Lee on keyboards, Derek Frank on bass and Third Richardson on drums, the Boneshakers suit their name well. Equally happy playing funk, soul, blues or rock, they display an uncommon level of dynamism and energy.
If you like joyous, upbeat blues-rock, with large chunks of old-fashioned soul and funk, all played with technical prowess and emotional power, you’ll love The EastWest Sessions. It’s an uplifting album that will bring a smile to your face and a tap to your toe.