Artist: Misty Blues
Album: Tell Me Who You Are : A Live Tribute To Odetta
Artist Website: https://www.mistybluesband.com/
The second release this year from Misty Blues is a testament to a clear love for Odetta's music from band leader Gina Coleman. A passion project that has been brewing for years finally came to fruition in May of 2023 with a live recording of in an acoustic setting. The band rolls through the 11 song set like the freight train this unit has become, and are as at home in the acoustic context as they are the electric. The first single to be released was Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child. The song comes in with a haunting saxophone and violin intro provided by Aaron Dean and Eileen Markland that sets the stage for Gina Coleman to shine on a virtually a cappella performance, accompanied by only a subtle violin and sporadic sax fills. Gina's voice is unmistakable.There is simply nobody to compare her to. She sounds like nobody other than Gina Coleman, and this song puts her unique vocals on display in their bare naked and most vulnerable beauty.
Dink's Blues is a standout that has enough soul and hurt to spare. A slide guitar sets the mood deep into southern roots like only a dobro can. The playing is provided by Seth Fleischmann... an exceptional performance that is drenched in authenticity and experience. His ability to float on top of the groove and cut through the mix without stepping on his band mates toes is impressive. There are so many great solos throughout this record from all the players, but this one is the guitarist's moment to bask in the spotlight, and for the listener to feel the picture a dobro creates in capable hands.
This Little Light of Mine has it all happening musically. Beginning with an a cappella vocal performance of several voices harmonizing perfectly and setting the wheels in motion to what becomes a 6:45 party. The whole band gets a turn to push the ball forward with their own unique voices. It is like a relay race where the baton is being handed to the next runner without skipping a step. Each one is as impressive as the last. When the repeating choruses come back in, the listener can feel the lift. It is a full band effort that is proof that sometimes when the stars align, the sum is greater than its parts.
Take This Hammer is a bluesy folk cut that has an infectious sing along chorus. The thing that this band does so well is share the spotlight time and again. The song comes in with a fantastic vocal that is quickly handed off to a world class saxophone player, a rolling piano and bouncy guitar solo. At the end of the piece lead vocalist Gina Coleman giggles with pure joy from what is taking place musically and it feels so sincere that it made me truly happy for her to see this record come to light. Odetta was a special artist and it takes guts to do a tribute album to such a musical force. In the rock world I think it would be like taking on a Queen tribute. It is such a tall order to live up to, but Misty Blues does more than justice to it. They remind us of how effective simple songs can be when performed at the highest level. The songs are matched only by the individual performances of the musicians in the band that are able to shine individually and be supportive of one another simultaneously. If you enjoy acoustic blues with a bit of a rock and roll attitude and deep respect for tradition, this is a must hear. If you are a fan of the extensive Misty Blues back catalog this will be a pleasant addition that is a bit of change in direction for the band. Not all bands that are as electric as Misty Blues are able to move into the acoustic realm. However Misty Blues did so quite seamlessly!