Here’s a great little CD that we have sampled on Time For The Blues on several occasions, but unfortunately I never got around to reviewing. Let me correct that oversight post haste.
Connor Ray Music is a very cool Texas label that specializes in blues, Americana, jam bands, and since it’s Texas, much of the music blends into that unique sound native to the Lone Star State. One of their brighter lights (and believe me, considering the company she keeps, that’s saying something) is the talented All Venable. She sings like an angel, plays guitar like a demon, and write songs that show an old soul in a very young body.
Yeah, I think it’s safe to say I’m a fan.
She’s backed up by a group of seriously talented musicians including Bobby Wallace on guitar; Zach Terry on bass; and Elijah Owings on drums. She is joined by special guests Steve Krase on harp and Randy Wall on keys. Krase also produced the album with Rock Romano and the sound is energetic with enough grit and growl to make this an outstanding album.
Venable and Company start things off appropriately enough with a little Texas Swing on Trainwreck. She’s got a good edgy voice and the band seems tight. Terry lays down a good funky beat and that allows the guitar breaks to soar. Good opening.
Next up is the title track, No Glass Shoes. Things slow down and get a little swampy. The song has a dark, different feel to it. This is a serious song and the longest on the album at a little over five minutes. Venable’s voice takes over and it really gets under your skin.
The band starts rocking on Woke Up This Mornin, a nod to the old-school blues with some serious bite to it. I’m not sure if Venable or Wallace is taking most of the leads, but whomever is playing is doing a great job. This band has got to be a lot of fun to watch live and I can only hope that they find their way out of Texas more to play some festivals so I can catch them.
The funk factor is upped a little on Wise Man. Again, the guitars work well over top of a strong bassline. Randy Wall adds some nice keyboard work in the background to give it a flavor of the Stax sound. The electric piano break is a good touch and adds a new dimension to their sound.
The band then rips into Messin With The Kid, an iconic blues tune and they do it justice. The opening guitar run sets the tone for this fun song. Venable’s voice is softer, almost a growling purr on this song. The choppy guitar break gives the song a slightly different feel and when they drop in the funk, it adds some excitement to this well-known song.
The band goes true old-school with Too Much Too Soon, which utilizes Steve Krase’s harp and Terry’s bass to set the mood. Those who love the more traditional blues sound will gravitate to this number. I like it a lot, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it get a lot of air play.
Alberta Hunter’s Downhearted Blues gets a bit of a face lift. The lyrics are intact, but the music gets a bit of an adaptation courtesy of Venable and Wallace. It’s grittier, what we often call crunchy on Time For The Blues, but totally within the spirit of the song. Bold choice.
The album concludes with Bonnie Raitt’s Love Me Like A Man. Talk about your old-school style with a controlled tempo, hard bassline, Krase’s harp and Venable’s voice – this is another standout and it could very easily garner some attention for the band.
No Glass Shoes is an enjoyable album that most blues lovers will welcome into their collection. If I have any complaint about it, it would be that at eight songs, it’s just too good to be so short. I would love to have heard a few more songs, but as it stands now, it’s a wonderful appetizer from what must surely be a delicious main course that’s coming.
In the meantime, you can check out their news, tours, and material at http://allyvenable.com/. If they are playing near you, be sure to check ‘em out, and tell ‘em The Professor sent you.