Rev. Rabia – Ol’ Guitar – Album Review

Rev. Rabia – Ol’ Guitar

self release

16 songs time – 58:32

Rev. Rabia originally from Sacramento, California and a Bay Area transplant with a thirty year career there as a singer-songwriter-guitarist of the folkie mostly acoustic-roots music variety with a slight hippie slant. She wrote or co-wrote nine of the songs with her partner in crime and lead guitarist Keizo Yamazawa. Alex Baum plays everything but the kitchen sink, as he contributes acoustic and electric bass, drums, keyboards, percussion and electric guitar on one track. Sam Andrew of Big Brother & The Holding Company fame plays guitar on two songs and Japanese spoken word on the final song. This is a 2021 release that encompasses songs recorded between 2010 and 2018.

“Mama Java” is a slightly veiled ode to coffee with word references like “bitter” and “grounds”. She recalls her mother gifting her an “Ol’ Guitar” on tis rambling song with references to old blues masters. The bouncy “Holy Blues” is a recollection of herself that features the late San Francisco stalwart Sam Andrew on electric guitar. She delivers a plaintive vocal on “Hand Me A Wrench”. “Hand me a wrench, my life’s out of whack”, accompanied by just her acoustic guitar.

She covers two of the late Americana singer-songwriter Chris Whitley that includes a bit of his unique vocal inflection. Her reading of “Poison Girl” is pretty true to the original with some nice piano by Alex Baum. “Big Sky Country” is given a slowed-up treatment.

“Time” is a mellow piano driven tune about the passing of it. “Walking In My Mind” maintains a similar easy going vibe.

The first instrumental “Passion” has a laid-back San Francisco meandering 60s hippie vibe, while “Melrose” has more of a Grateful Dead trippy jam band sound. Both songs are welcome interludes to the singer-songwriter usual suspects.

Memphis Minnie’s “Black Cat Blues” contrary to explanations I have read of it being about a cat, I would say that it has a double meaning. “Everybody wants to buy my kitty”. You figure it out. She gives a good reading of Joni Mitchell’s “Night Ride Home” along with John Prine’s “Great Rain”. I am not familiar with Prine’s song, but isn’t one of his more lyrically creative songs. The public domain “Lowlands” is solemnly delivered with just the accompaniment of acoustic guitar. Kyu Sakamoto’s 1963 hit “Sukyaki(Ue O Muite Arukou) closes it all out as Sam Andrew parrots her singing with Japanese spoken word.

A very enjoyable and listenable recording with Rev. Rabia’s lilting vocals and acoustic guitar skills. The spare backing contributes to a soothing and creative experience. A folkie-hippie vibe hovers over the proceedings. Take that as a compliment.

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