Ever wondered what would happen if a fearless woman grabbed hold of a bunch of classic country-type songs and jazzed 'em up? Well, And They Call Us Cowboys answers that curiosity, starting off with a breezy version of Kristofferson's Help Me Make It through the Night, a cut that has samba, lite jazz, mellow rock, and soul. The real basis for the CD is to pay attention to Texas musicians, of which Gray is one, as well as a couple almost-Texans who dug the groove and knew the strut.
Gray's intent is clearly shown in her take on Mac Davis' In the Ghetto, which comes across first as a reproving Plains mom haranguing one and all to hush the hell up and give a damn about someone else for a change…just before she turns the number into an Ella Fitzgerald jazz-scat. Roger Miller's immortal Dang Me gets the Ben Sidran treatment so thoroughly that it's damn near unrecognizable…except when you suddenly hafta blurt out "Yow! That's waaaaay the hell cool!" It also reminds the attentive that Miller had a jazzy underside in a bunch of his perkier stuff. Then there's the just as mutated take on Christopher Cross' Sailing, as though Betty Davis (Miles' wife, not the queen bitch actress) and Nina Simone decided to team up in one voice with a starry Mark Egany bass (Chris Maresh) ambientalizing the atmosphere in spare tonal poetics. Trust me, you'll never again hear this song, my favorite here, done so coolly and so outrageously at the same time. Gray must have extra wrinkles in her brain just to be able to think that way.
Orbison's Only the Lonely comes through in Marvin Gaye Trouble Man waves, a nightclub number in low lights where you can almost hear the clinking of wine glasses and the crowd's digging-it murmur. If you want to know what's really meant by interpretation, then you have to get this disc 'cause, frankly, I can't remember the last time I heard a set of tunes this radically reworked while remaining faithful to the intent and flavor of the originals. You just know that more than one of the composers here is going to hear Cowboys and think "Damn! I sure wish I'd written it THAT way!"
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2013, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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