January 1, 2015

Blues Matters, England


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Deb Callahan Sweet Soul | Jan 2015

Sweet Soul is the fifth album from this Philadelphia-based blues and soul singer and a good ‘un it is too. Originally from the Boston area, she made her debut album If The Blues Had Wings in 2002, and Sweet Soul is her fifth. Deb’s powerful and soulful voice tackles a programme of largely original material, backed by a crack Los Angeles band including the well-known producer and drummer Tony Braunagel, slide guitarist Johnny Lee Schell, Mike Finnigan on keyboards and Reggie McBride on bass. These guys have worked extensively with the likes of Taj Mahal, Etta James and Bonnie Raitt (with whom Deb was often compared in her early days), and they are joined by Deb’s regular guitarist Allen James, who is in no way overshadowed by the illustrious company. He is a fine versatile player with a noted influence from the British blues boom outfits. Although every track here is certainly worth a listen (usually much more than one!) there are some real high spots on this CD – try Deb’s own up tempo Shackin Up, or lend an ear to her bluesy cover of Candi Staton’s Sweet Feeling, with its strong southern approach, which contrasts well with the R & B feel of Tom Waits’ Way Down In The Hole and the no-nonsense Crazy ‘Bout You Baby, a straight ahead rocking Chicago blues performance, whilst the closing I Been Hoodood veers a little towards blues-rock, and boasts some fine Hendrix styled guitar work. A nicely varied set, and it is pretty obvious then that I am going to recommend this!