Meena Cryle was born in Austria, but, after just one listen to Try Me, you'll swear she had to have issued from Birmingham, Alabama. When very young, the singer was persuaded to enter a house of worship only because she found herself hypnotized by the swirling hedonism of the church organ, later encanting folk music with her grandmother at a neighborhood restaurant. Her brother then turned her on to psychedelic musics and, as Meena went through rebellious teen years, she started up a wild rock band, but it's more than obvious that bluesy soul you hear so profoundly is her home territory, and thank God she never traveled through the mainstream filter 'cause this CD smolders and woulda got gelded in Warner Bros hands.
Doesn't hurt a bit, either, that she ran across Thomas Ruf, whose label she now resides within, and Jim Gaines, production whiz on this simmering disc. Meena's been compared to Janis and Tina, but, truly, those compratives are fairly inappropos. She possesse a nice little slice of Bonnie Bramlett as well, but neither Turner nor Joplin nor Bramlett do what she does nor has the uniqueness of this woman gone unnoticed among the cognoscenti, as Try Me boasts an enviable roster of guest guitarists: Eric Sardinas, Joanne Shaw Taylor, Coco Montoya, Donna Grantis, and several others, even a pop-in vocal performance from Shakura S'Aida (here), who's likewise a sultry tigress.
Meena remains the center attraction throughout the disc, but the presence of those guitars puts a nice little edge on things. They all wisely dial it back, leashing otherwise ferocious instrumental personas to underwrite Cryle's work, and the combination is rich and loamy, fertile dark silt and lush mangroves in sultry heat. For reasons I can't quite explain, Sorry really sticks in my mind, the kind of thing that was making the rounds in the old 60s/70s Fillmore sound with Lamb, Tracy Nelson, Stoneground, and others…but I'm Leaving You also stands out, cuts through the ribs to twist the heart up as J.S. Taylor slips a solo or two in, tosses a match on Meena's 'had it up to here' torrid sentiment. Hmmm, come to think of it, a hell of a lot of songs here crowd each other out in unique virtues, all vying to claim the disc's top sweet spot. That's no coincidence.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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