February 1, 2009

Bluesblast Magazine


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Bluesblast Magazine

Chicago, IL

Feb 2009

Review of Grace & Grit

Written by : Eric’s Steiner – Overall Impression: Highly Recommended

Deb Callahan is one of my favorite more recent blues discoveries. The first time I turned up “Food on the Table,” “Carry Me,” and “How Many Times,” I knew that I had to shout about this blueswoman. Glenn Bickel’s Hammond B-3 adds the right amount of texture to “How Many Times,” and “Carry Me” resonates just like other great blues songs about a river. If you like Terry Evans’ Gospel-tinged “The River,” you’ll enjoy the way Emile D’Amico’s harp wraps itself around this simmering Deb Callahan-Allen James original. While the majority of songs on Grace and Grit are originals, I really enjoyed the band’s upbeat workout on Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah I Love Him So.”

Deb’s voice is just a few degrees closer to Susan Tedeschi’s on this cover and guitarist Allen James’ work is that not far off from Derek Trucks.’ It’s a version that Brother Ray would appreciate, and it adds a nice touch of soul to an otherwise solid blues CD. Each time I return to the 15 songs on Grace & Grit, I replay “Big Wide Space.” This original song takes more than a few emotional risks – what great songs don’t? – and along the way, Deb commands a band that contributes subtle nuances from the B-3, a solid engine room in Garry Lee and Tom Walling, backed by understated picking from Allen James. Check out Deb’s forceful web page opening with the opening cut on this CD, “Food on the Table.

I enjoyed Deb’s CD from start to finish and would recommend it highly to my friends. Perhaps more importantly, I’ll make a point to catch her show next month as she warms up the St. John Blues Festival in the US Virgin Islands.

Reviewer Eric Steiner is the President of the Washington Blues Society and a member in the Blues Blowtorch Society. The Washington Blues Society is the recipient of the 2009 Keeping the Blues Alive Award in the blues organization category.