Monday, May 12, 2014

Trudy Lynn - Royal Oaks Blues Café

Has it really been over seven years since Trudy Lynn had a new recording out. Connor Ray Music issued Royal Oaks Blues Café, her first recordings since she recorded I’m Still Here (Sawdust Alley 2006) with the late Calvin Owens and his Blues Orchestra. The Houston based Lynn was among a number of artists who first came to folks attention on the Ichiban label and then for Ruf, Jus Blues and Sawdust Alley before this new recording.

The album cover bills this as Trudy Lynn featuring Steve Krase, and Krase’s harmonica is featured throughout. The studio band on most of this is guitarist John Del Toro Richardson, pianist Randy Wall, bassist Eugene ‘Spare Time’ Murray, and drummer Carl Owens. Its a solid small combo that contrasts with the Owens Blues Orchestra that supported her on her last album, and while the backing lends some difference in the mood perhaps, Trudy Lynn comes off as sassy and powerful as before.

She certainly benefits from a good mix of material from her strong rendition of the Jay McShann-Walter Brown blues standard Confessin’ The Blues, on which Krase and Richardson impress with their strong playing behind Lynn whose vocals display a clarity in phrasing and an expressive range (from a whisper to a shout). Wall’s piano kicks off the cover of a Bobby Bland recording, Play the Honky Tonks. Street Walkin’ Daddy benefits from the laid back backing with Richardson evoking the likes of Clarence Holliman and Pete Mayes behind Lynn’s soulful vocal. The tempo is boosted a few notches on the jump blues Red Light, while Lynn caresses the lyric of I’m Gonna Put You Down (“Did you ever wake up in the morning with your mind running two different ways”). Then she changes her attack for the jubilant celebration of Beale Street and the blues on the rollicking shuffle Down in Memphis.

There is fine Richardson guitar on the relaxed Effervescent Daddy with a choice harmonica solo as well. The closing Whip it To A Jelly further displays how nuanced a singer Lynn is as she brings out humor and wit of Clara Smith’s lyrics, Many blue singers today would come across as emotive or heavy-handed singing this. Her ability to convincingly deliver so many shades of blues makes Royal Oaks Blues Café such a terrific recording.

I purchased this. Here is a short video of the making of Royal Oaks Blues Café.

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