Daughter of Tiny Tucker, who was best known for the smash “High Heel Sneakers,” Teeny Tucker has been establishing herself as a blues vocalist of the first order. She has just issued her fourth album, “Keep the Blues Alive,” (TeBo Records) and it displays her continuing maturation as a vocalist on a set of mostly original music. Her band is led by the fine guitarist Robert Hughes (also an exceptional photographer), who also collaborated on many of the originals here with her.
“Ain’t That The Blues,” kicks this set off and is about the circumstances that give folk the blues. This track shows her poise and how she can go from a soft passage to belting out without any annoying mannerisms. She cites the great Big Maybelle as an influence, and her ability to caress a lyric as well as shout it out suggests that blues legend. “Make Room For Teeny,” is a lively number as he announces its time for her to take her place in the blues world, recalling her roots and that she is here to stay. “Daughter to the Blues,” is a slow Chicago styled blues with harmonica in the backing as she recalls her father telling her to just sing the blues and it won’t go wrong. “You’re the daughter of the blues, and that’s the part of me I left to you.” “Old Man Magnet,” is a humorous look at dressing up and attracting older men who stick to her like glue. “I Wish We Could Go Back,” is a slow blues where she reflects about the relationship falling apart and going back before the storm began with Hughes contributing some fine guitar here. The title track is a gospel styled performance (with backing singers) about singing and preaching about the blues with another fine guitar solo, but the rhythm is pretty stiff here.
One of the standout tracks is the acoustic tribute, “John Cephas” written by Hughes and Tucker as a tribute to the late Piedmont blues master. It was performed at the 2010 DC Blues Festival that was dedicated to Cephas’ memory. This performance is hauntingly beautiful as Teeny lovingly sings “It looks like John Cephas with his guitar in his hand, don’t worry he ain’t sad, because he is playing with all of his friends.” I am not sure how well Teeny and Robert knew John, but this performance is simply stunning. It’s followed by a spirited rendition of Jon Thomas’ 1960 hit, “Heartbreak,” although one wishes the rhythm section swung it more. Not sure that a new recording of “Got My Mojo Workin’,” was needed, but it is strongly sung. The set closes on a back porch, acoustic note on “Respect Me and Respect the Blues,” starting as a talking blues and Teeny notes how people have differing tastes in food, cars and music. People keep telling her, she should stop singing the blues, because she sings a great R&B song and a gospel tune to which she asks them “respect me and respect the blues.”
“Keep The Blues Alive” will certainly build Teeny’s audience. There is some exceptional material on this and Teeny is fabulous. I wish the rhythm was on the same level as her and guitarist Hughes, as it would have made the exceptional singing sound even better. This quibble aside, “Keep The Blues Alive” is highly recommended. Burnside Distribution is handling it and it is available on cdbaby.com, and amazon.com.
For FTC regulations, I received a review copy from the PR firm handling this recording.