November 5, 2008

Music City Blues


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Music City Blues
Nashville’s Blues Society

November 05, 2008

Written by Don Crow


Philadelphia-based blueswoman Deb Callahan possesses a powerful voice that is perfectly suited for her chosen profession, and she’s been a fixture on the festival and club scene up and down the eastern seaboard since the mid-Nineties. Her latest release, “Grace And Grit, showcases that mighty vocal range as well has her writing talents, as she and her band churn out fourteen originals and one sparkling cover (of Ray Charles’ “Hallelujah I Love Him So”) on the most promising CD of her career, which includes some interesting forays into jazz territory.

The CD gets its title from Deb’s days as a social worker in Philly, and many of her songs are written through the heart and soul of someone who’s “been there” thru some hard times. She’s ably backed by Allen James and Chris Arms on guitars, (they also share writing credits on several cuts) Gary Lee on bass, Tom Walling on drums, and Emile D’Amico on harp.

Things get off to a rousing start with a table-thumping tale of a single mom who’s gotta do what she’s gotta do in this day and time to put “Food On The Table.” Two lovers who are polar opposites vow to keep on trying in “Obstacle To Love.” There are a cappella snippets of “I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free” and “Dry Cleaner From Des Moines” where Deb pays tribute to influences from Nina Simone and Joni Mitchell. The intriguing “Insomniac Blues” features some cool, Miles Davis-like muted trumpet behind Deb’s vocal.

We had three favorites, too. Deb confesses an affair to her lover in the slow burn of “Guilty.” A telephone number mix-up fuels the humorous tale of “No Taxi Driver,” where “nobody gets a free ride today!” And, the set closes with a wall-to-wall rocker, “Work A Little Harder to make your dreams come true!”

Deb Callahan will remind many of Susan Tedeschi or Bonnie Raitt, and here’s hoping that “Grace And Grit” will serve as her breakout CD! Until next time…..Sheryl and Don Crow