Rosie Flores – Simple Case Of The Blues | Album Review

Rosie Flores – Simple Case Of The Blues

Last Music Company LMCD206

11 songs – 42 minutes

Rosie Flores has been a cult hero in the Austin and Los Angeles music scenes since the ’70s, and she proves she’s a blues artist of the first order with this release after having spent the majority of her career making a name for herself in other disciplines.

A native of San Antonio, she’s a powerful, warm alto with guitar skills that also rank among the best in the Lone Star State. She fell in love with the blues in high school, but has been when she terms “a musical chameleon” for the past 40 years, beginning as a punk rocker with country twang in Rosie & The Screamers and the Screaming Sirens before evolving into Bakersfield style alt country in 1987 with the release of her first, self-titled album and then successfully venturing into honky tonk, rockabilly, rock and even jazz.

One of the featured performers at a tribute to Chuck Berry at the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, she was once ranked among the top 75 female guitarists of all time in a Venus Zine magazine response to a Rolling Stone article compiling the 100 best males.

This album came about after Flores spent time sitting in with country artists Dave Roe and Kenny Vaughan at 12 South Tap Room in Nashville. They had so much fun that they insisted they record together. The resulting disc swings from the jump as it mixes blues with a heavy dose of R&B and more.

Flores and Vaughan share lead guitar duties with Roe holding down upright and electric bass. They’re joined by Charlie Sexton, who co-produced, on rhythm guitar and percussion, T. Jarrod Bonta and Michael Flanigin on keyboards and Jimmy Lester on drums. And they’re augmented by Cindy Cashdollar on lap steel with a horn section composed of Greg Williams (sax), Kevin Flatt (trumpet) and Paul Deemer (trombone). Robert Kraft, Sheree Smith, Michael Hale and Ange Kogutz provide backing vocals.

Recorded at Seven Deadly Sins Studio in Coodlettsville, Tenn., and Arlan Studios in Austin, the album opens with a smoking take on Roy Brown’s “Love Don’t Love Nobody.” Flores and Vaughan trade stellar single-note guitar runs before giving way to “Mercy Fell Like Rain,” a ballad with spiritual overtones.

Jerry Lieber and Mike Stoller’s “I Want To Do More,” once a hit for Ruth Brown, is a stop-time pleaser that maintains its ‘50s feel before Rosie launches into her self-penned title track, “Simple Case Of The Blues,” which puts a new spin on yearning for a lost love. Another original, “Drive Drive Drive,” features tasty runs from an uncredited harp player as Flores delivers a loping paean to the open road.

Next up, she dips into the catalog of Wynona Carr for the uptempo, horn-driven, “Till The Well Runs Dry,” which pleads for an ex-lover to give it one more try even though she knows she was the cause of the breakup. The theme continues with Dwight Yoakum’s two-step ballad, “If There Was A Way,” which gives Rosie space to stretch out vocally, before the jump-time pleaser, “That’s What You Gotta Do,” a tune first recorded by jazz vocalist Ella Johnson in 1956.

“Empty Hands,” penned by Roe, follows. It’s a smoky ballad in which the singer’s totally confused because she’s both strongly attracted and wary of a man she adores. “Teenage Rampage,” a dazzling original stop-time instrumental, and a reinvented take of Wilson Pickett’s familiar “If You Need Me” bring the disc to a close.

If your ear runs to old-school blues and R&B or if you love the sound of Texas-style guitar, you’ll love this one. Every cut’s a winner!

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