It was a very pleasant surprise to receive this new Tracy Nelson disc and to find her in such robust voice, and with a set list of songs that is both powerful and moving. They are tunes that are both durable, and timeless. The songs here bring to memory some of her early solo work before, and then with, Mother Earth; blues tunes from back in the mid and late 60s. This selection of songs by writers such as Ma Rainey, Jimmy Reed, Willie Dixon, and Joe Tex among other writers is strong and they are perfectly suited for her voice. This is from a woman who has had hits in both the Blues and Country genres; songs she has done with such divergent artists as Willie Nelson, Charlie Musselwhite, Irma Thomas and Marcia Ball. Speaking of Ms Ball, she makes a strong appearance on this disc playing the piano on Shoot My Baby, and also singing one of the three guest vocal duets featured on the disc. Angela Strehli duets on Howlin' For My Baby and John Cowan duets on Without Love. These duets aren't for fluff; each of the cuts shows off the power of both singers as well as their touch.
Victim of the Blues is as powerful a statement as we have heard in years from Ms Nelson. Long time friend Mike Dysinger produced the disc, and the band here is strictly top shelf material. Mike Henderson is on guitar, and banjolin on cut 5; Byron House on bass; John Gardner on drums, Jimmy Pugh on piano and B3; as stated Marcia Ball takes piano on Shoot My Baby, and George Bradfute rhythm guitar on The Love You Save;. The backup vocals are Vicki Carrico, Reba Russell, John Cowan, Terry Tucker and James "Nick" Nixon. It's group that is both tight and knows whose disc this is.
The selection of the songs must have been quite a story. You can feel the special care and touch put into them and the gamut of emotion is staggering. These songs are at the root of Tracy's career; they are some of the first types of songs she was exposed to back when she started singing in coffee houses in Wisconsin and Chicago. Thinking Etta James sums up both Nelson and this disc best when in her inimitable and succinct way when she said "…a bad white girl…" Sheer vocal dynamite that shows Tracy Nelson's power and range, she takes a song that is well known and redoes it so it is something new, fresh, and packed full of emotional explosiveness.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2011, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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