Rebekah Meldrum & Paul Holdman – Live At The Slippery Noodle | Album Review

Rebekah Meldrum & Paul Holdman –¬†Live At The Slippery Noodle

Slippery Noodle Sound SNS0016

14 songs – 62 minutes

Vocalist Rebekah Meldrum and her guitarist/vocalist partner Paul Holdman deliver an interesting collection of electric blues in this set, which was recorded live in Indianapolis, Ind., at the legendary Slippery Noodle Inn.

A preacher’s daughter who grew up in Southern California, Meldrum sang gospel in church, but was only eight years old in 1991 when she saw Koko Taylor perform on an episode of The Cosby Show. Even though she didn’t know at the time who Koko was, she knew one thing for certain: It was her destiny to become a singer.

When her father relocated to a church in Indianapolis, she quickly discovered the rich heritage and live music presented at the Noodle. Founded in 1850, it’s one of the longest running blues clubs in the world. A restaurant with two stages, it served as home base for blues mandolin player Yank Rachell and even kept open as a speakeasy and brothel during prohibition. She possesses a rich alto voice that’s steeped in her gospel background, and she makes her recording debut here.

Holdman, meanwhile, was a Hoosier friend from childhood. They reconnected in 2014 when he was recording a gospel album, entitled In The Hands Of God, and wanted to add Rebekah’s pipes to the mix. A smooth guitarist whose recording career dates to the mid-’90s with the blues-rock group Bangkok Rooster and includes work with soul-blues star Tad Robinson, he’s been fronting his own unit since the early 2000s and has two solo CDs to his credit. A baritone, he also possesses a warm, relaxed voice.

They’re assisted here by bassist David Murray and percussionist Kevin Kouts with Patrick Long contributing harmonica and vocals. While only four of the 14 tunes here are originals, and several of the covers will be familiar to anyone with a little musical knowledge, the stripped-down arrangements are fresh and the presentation carefully presented throughout. Though recorded live with an audience, the sound quality is as crisp as anything you’d hear coming out of a studio.

The album begins with a funky little number by bayou soul artist Marc Broussard. Entitled “Home,” it percolates with Rebekah handling vocals and Paul delivering a single-note run solo mid-tune. Buddy Guy’s “Midnight Train” pulls out of the station next with Holdman and Meldrum sharing a duet before “Gypsy.” Penned by Rebekah, it’s a straight-ahead blues ode to an unbothered woman who seems crazy, but simply doesn’t fit into their mold.

A run of four well-fashioned covers — James Brown’s “It’s A Man’s World,” Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “You Gotta Move,” Smokey Robinson’s “Tracks Of My Tears” and “House Of The Rising Sun” — follow before a pair of new tunes. Rebekah’s “Coat Tails” begins with another tasty, percussive guitar pattern before she sings about a young lady who’s ready to spread her wings and fly, while “Far Away” is a ballad that yearns for a wind from any direction that will carry the singer to a new life in the Delta.

Rebekah delivers Hoagie Carmichael’s “Georgia On My Mind” in an arrangement similar to the famous Ray Charles version aided by a sweet guitar solo before Holdman takes over for his gospel original, “Jerusalem,” delivered as a medium-tempo shuffle before three more covers — Elmore James’ “The Sky Is Crying,” The Ronettes’ “Baby I Love You” and Big Joe Williams’ “Baby Please Don’t Go” — bring the action to a close.

Available through Amazon and CDBaby, Live At The Slippery Noodle doesn’t cover any new ground, but Meldrum and Holdman are talented, and definitely worth a listen.

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