Sue Foley – Pinky’s Blues
10 songs, 36 minutes (2 bonus, CD only, tracks)
Sue Foley is on a roll. The Canadian breed Blueswomen moved back to Austin a few years ago, where in the 90’s she apprenticed in one of the mythic incarnations of Antone’s. 2018’s soulful, Blues Rock manifesto The Ice Queen was a major artistic statement of Foley’s distinct style. Her follow up, Pinky’s Blues takes the newfound drive of Ice Queen and infuses it with real deal Texas Blues swagger. Cut live, Pinky’s Blues has a raw, spontaneous magic that leaps out of the speakers and invites the listener to join the band for a Modelo and a shot of Tequila.
When Sue Foley came back to Austin she reignited partnerships with some of the leaders of the Texas Blues scene. Legend Jimmie Vaughan, who plays rhythm guitar on a track here, has obviously been a mentor and inspiration. Double Trouble drummer Chris “Whipper” Layton, who holds the set down throughout, and Hammond B3 master Mike Flanigin, who produces and offers sparse accompaniment, have been a strong unit after cutting Flanigin’s excellent West Texas Blues with Foley earlier in the year. And long time bass foil Jon Penner keeps the music pinned to the ground and allows Foley to fly.
Sue Foley is an exceptional Blues guitarist. A student of the clear unfussy style of Texas Blues guitar created in part by Gatemouth Brown and currently held vibrant by Jimmie Vaughan, Foley’s number 1 guitar is a funky pink paisley Telecaster named Pinky. Aptly for a record named after a guitar, Pinky’s Blues is a straight up guitar showcase for Sue. The excellent bookend instrumentals, Foley’s original title track and Gate’s guitar-player-proving-ground “Okie Dokie Stomp,” are not even the most significant guitar statements here. The slow Blues of “Say It’s Not So,” one of two Austin Blues legend Angela Strehli covers, is a burning emotive shakedown. Tommy Brown’s (he was a fairly obscure singer, check him out!) gender reworked “Southern Man” is a hot Latin Blues romp. Texan Frankie Lee Sims’ classic “Boogie Real Low” has a weight and depth to the lead work. And Foley’s pair of new originals “Dallas Man” and “Hurricane Girl” alternately rock and shuffle both with raw grinding power.
The revelations of Pinky’s Blues come from the intense creativity and expressiveness of Sue Foley, the fully realized Blueswoman. Covering Texas Blueswomen Strehli and Antone’s legend Lavelle White, as well as Dallas Man Frankie Lee Sims and the great Tommy Brown track, Foley is looking back and being referential as she makes a definitive statement about her skill. Additionally the unique production of this record highlights the intimacy and talent needed to pull off a live recording. The guitar is not effected at all and is mic’ed way back so there is a ton of real estate between the listener’s ear and the guitar amp. The space creates a big lavish guitar sound that is as indulgent as it is comforting. In that same sonic room (probably cause they were actually in a room together) are all the other instruments. This isn’t the isolated disembodied sound of Yacht Rock or Steely Dan, this is earthy messy dusty Blues. These are Sue Foley’s Blues, her best girlfriend Pinky’s Blues and an exciting deeply personal touchpoint in the form.