From the outset in Addiction, the 25-year old Gina Sicilia takes command with an adamantine voice brooking little in the way of nonsense, and Dave Gross' staccato chords back that up. With backbone and a firm stance, she clearly delivers a set of blues rockers largely of her own writing, with a few covers to the side, particularly a very strong rendition of Larry Addison's Members Only, which Gross infuses in a great moaning slide juncture. Sicilia also does a good job of transforming Dixon's Crazy 'Bout You Baby but, man o man, does she ever nail Members!
Can't Control Myself is a bit of a deceptive title, as this raven-haired chanteuse is in charge of her art, but, yes, she does indeed pour her heart out when not setting down terms inferentially or in plain diction, extolling muscular plaints and heartfelt journeys through life and love. Gross does a rather amazing job beside her, a one-man army who literally plays everything save for sax (1 cut), trumpet (1 cut), and lap steel (2 cuts), also producing, engineering, and mixing the CD. Vizz Tone has always had a way of finding people who fall just to the side of the orthodox, and, as I listened, I kept trying to think of who Sicilia reminded me of. Her unusual take on A Place in the Sun didn't help any because it's unpigeonholable, and I realized she's unlike quite anyone else. Her style is definitely blues but that voice and tone are no one's standard. I'd love to hear her tackle a CD either belting out shouters or burning down torch songs because those atmospheres are written all over this release.
There's also a powerful emotional simplicity and tug in her compositions. As Long as You're Here shows this in stark moving terms, a riveting coalescing of sinew and femininity depending solely on her raw delivery, an arrival that dominates the cut from the first beat. And as solidly as Sicilia drives her work home, there's still plenty of room left over for interpretation in other hands. If some of these tracks don't find themselves in the front parlors of male and female blues mainstays and hopefuls, then I'm in the wrong damn business, because I see Rod Stewart, Maria Muldaur, and a whole raft of vets unearthing the gold that's all too evident every step of the way. Hell, let Ana Popovick grab one of Sicilia's opuses and then throw her blazing guitar into it, and we're talking dynamite cubed. Can't Control Myself is meaty, urgent, fiery, muskily sensuous, and captivating: no one steps away without getting singed.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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