Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Mary Jo Curry Impresses

Mary Jo Curry
Guitar Angel Records

A veteran of touring theater companies, Mary Jo Curry discovered a love for the blues five years ago. Now she has an eponymously titled debut album produced by James Armstrong comprised of four originals and five covers. Curry wrote two of the originals and her husband Michael Rapier wrote two as well as shares guitar duties with Armstrong. Others on the album are bassists Darryl Wright and Lawrence Baulden, drummer Andrew Blaze Thomas, keyboardist Brett Donovan, a horn section of Dick Garretson (trumpet), Mike Gillette (sax) and Larry Niehaus (trombone) and backing vocals from L.A. Davison.

Curry impresses as a singer throughout this nicely produced straight-ahead set of blues. Her pitch, her phrasing and dynamics underlie her very expressive and soulful vocals. The backing is also very nice, handling a nice range of material from the opening Curry original jump-blues shuffle, "Ooooo Weeee," where she celebrates her wrong-doing man having left and she is finally free to Rapier's closing, funky "Smellin'," where she confronts her cheating man who is smelling like sex again with nice slide guitar from him as well. Themes of relationships in trouble are also present on Rapier's "Husband #2," an urban blues with some solid guitar (thinking it may be Armstrong taking lead here) and riffing horns, as she advises watch one says and do, as she is looking for Husband #2.

Covers include a nice rendition of Junior Wells' "Little By Little," as well Koko Taylor's "Voodoo Woman," although she doesn't quite match Koko's original (which few could reach in any event). "When a Woman's Had Enough"  originally recorded by Bettye Lavette and later by Shemekia Copeland, on which Curry produces a fine vocal that perhaps best displays her vocal range on thismarvelous song. Not previously having heard of Mary Jo Curry, this listener were delighted by this solid debut. Kudos to James Armstrong for the tight, uncluttered production and to the musicians who played on this fine recording.

I received my review copy from a publicist.Here is a clip of her performing in public.

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