Although Rory Block is known for her stunning acoustic blues, I'm Every Woman is quite a bit of a departure. The high quality of recording and song selection we have come to expect from Block continues. On this album, however, she turns her attention to sweet soul and R&B from the 60s and 70s. The album still has her trademark acoustic blues and gospel songs. Just expect something a little atypical with I'm Every Woman.
The album opens with Block's characteristic acoustic slide guitar work on the one-minute-and-fourteen-second Guitar Ditty. Don't let the blues lull you into a sense of the familiar, though. The second track opens with a fiery electric guitar lick driving I'm Every Woman, written by Ashford and Simpson. Block's version subtly recalls of Chaka Khan's 1978 hit, even with the disco synth flourishes. Block keeps up the R&B spirit with Curtis Mayfield's Fool For You.
On the fourth and fifth tracks, Block revisits familiar terrain. Two acapella traditional numbers appear: Sea Lion Woman (with Gaye Adegbalola of the trio Saffire: The Uppity Blues Women) and Ain't No Grave Can Hold My Body Down. Those who have seen Block perform know the passion with which she can belt out acapella numbers, and these tracks provide a somewhat restrained sense of her live show.
The album returns to the R&B theme with Al Green's Tired of Being Alone followed by Love TKO. This Teddy Pendergrass song, written by Womack and Womack is the sweet soul song to get your significant other in the mood. Block surprisingly delivers a strong performance, which I consider one of the highlights of the album. The second half of the album finds Block duetting with Keb' Mo' on Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell 's Ain't Nothing Like the Real Thing.
Not all the R&B songs are covers. Like many of her previous albums, Block includes one of her own. Talkin' 'Bout My Man is Block's quite respectable contribution to the R&B sound of this album.
Long-time Block fans may be surprised that she delivers so many soul numbers on this album, which are interspersed with her more traditional material. In this respect, the album possesses a split personality. If however, we consider that Block's blues were influenced by pioneering black musicians, I'm Every Woman could be viewed as just another facet of her tribute to great artists.
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