Hwy11 Records – 2016
10 tracks; 38 minutes
Sunday Wilde is a composer and musician from Ontario, Canada. She travelled to the Delta to record these songs for her sixth album, Blueberries & Grits, the title reflecting the products of her home (blueberries) and the Delta (grits). Sunday wrote half the tracks, the others being covers, several of celebrated blues artists. The whole album has an old-time feel courtesy of Sunday’s piano, Jack Reno’s upright bass and Rickey Martin’s simple drums; Billy Earhart (Amazing Rhythm Aces) plays a vintage pump organ on four tracks, Roger Reupert trumpet on four, Sturgis Nikides dobro on four, April Mae washboard on two, Johnny Cass, Gary Vincent, Dave Fecca and Robert Hughes add guitar to five tracks between them and Mandy Lemons and Watermelon Slim backing vocals to two.
Sunday has a distinctive vocal style that will not be to everybody’s taste, certainly this reviewer struggled to get used to it. A track like “That Man Drives Me Mad” finds her at her most idiosyncratic though “One Of These Days”, a duet with the extremely gravelly vocals of Jack Reno gives it a good run for its money. On the other hand the gentle Americana feel of “Too Many Troubles” works well with nice plucked guitar. Opening cut “Show Me A Man” is probably the best example of the old-timey style with jazzy trumpet blended with bluesy dobro and Sunday’s piano to the fore. Closing track “Come On In”, written by Gary Vincent, is pure gospel.
The blues covers include a stripped back version of Willie Dixon’s “John The Conquer Root” that works very well with Sunday’s piano and Roger’s trumpet subtly backed by the eerie sound of the pump organ and some interesting percussion sounds. A similarly minimal approach to the oft-covered Louis Jordan’s “Early In The Morning” worked less well to these ears. A sprightly version of Bessie Smith’s “Sorrowful Blues” was perhaps the strongest track on the album with the dobro and piano playing well together.
Fans of early blues will find something to enjoy here and Sunday’s existing fans will probably enjoy her take on another style of blues material.