Man, Ruf Records has a talent for locating gritty raw blues singers and players, but Dana Fuchs jumps into the title cut of her sophomore label issuance, Bliss Avenue, like a tigress, eyes flashing, claws extended, howling at the moon, band pushing the pedal down hard. More than once, I was strongly reminded of Maggie Bell (Stone the Crows, Midnight Flyer, solo) with her rough, raw, take-no-prisoners approach to bluesrock 'cause Fuchs lays into her work like a hardtack soul singer who's been around the block so many times it should be named after her. Jon Diamond's guitar work cuts through all the nightime fogs but Glenn Patscha's organ and keyboards lays 'em right back in again, and the rest of the ensemble ramps up the pulse.
There are ballads here, but I'm not sure that nametag's quite right with cases like Daddy's Little Girl, a paean to romantic confusion that bares its fangs subtly just before biting in. You're not going to get Barry Manilow or Helen Reddy 'cause Dana's got "rodents in the attic—trouble in my brain / sugar in my blood—poison in my veins" and has seen her share of hard cases…in the mirror, at her shoulder, and just as strongly in the mean streets. She lost her older sister and beloved brother, has seen the loneliness of the road and the betrayals of the business, and here purges her soul in a starker more naked way in order to exorcise demons getting just a mite too familiar.
So, yeah, there's a lot of darkness throughout the disc—some would say there's nothing but, and I'm not inclined to argue—but no one makes their way to redemption before getting lost in the deepest hours of the night nor do onlookers understand a bit of it unless they step into the recesses of back alleys they never knew existed, stumble, and then fall. I covered Dana's first Ruf release here, but this one's steeped a good deal more in the barest bones of the perversities of that grand aberration we call 'life' than that one, so look back to it for the story of a rather impressive lead-up to this, but lay a more steely ear to Bliss Avenue, an ironic title if ever there was one, and let Dana knock you around a bit, break your heart a little, and then join you up to the other side, where experience trumps fantasy and everyone's wounded but stalwart.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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