The good news is Biales is back; the just as good news is, good God!, she sure knows how to recruit a band—Tommy Talton, EG Kight, Randall Bramblett (I still miss the hell out of Sea Level, dammit!), Paul Hornsby, Bill Stewart, etc.—and the best news is that her new disc continues much in the golden footsteps of her last two, Just Like Honey (here) and Singin' in my Soul (here). As the title indicates, however, Belle of the Blues is more in a true blues vein than the too-hip old-timey stuff we heard the last couple times around (though Baby Won't You Please Come Home is definitely solidly in a Leon Redboney vein, a Mama Cass type song). More, though, there's a very solid folk and country baseline to Belle.
And, boys, there are a few songs here yore mama wouldn't approve of, especially the last two: the bad girl Trouble and the better bad girl Bad Girl, both co-written by EG Kight, who seems to know a good deal more of the temperamental and carnal sides of women than most. Kight takes Thelma and Louise down a street they never knew, a dark one made no lighter by all the gltiz. I'm pretty sure even you, no matter what ilk of carouser you might be, would balk at the hard-nosed gold-digging temptress in Trouble but am equally certain you wouldn't at all mind running into the sex kitten in Bad Girl. Just don't tell mama, especially while she's reading her Bible. Graveyard Dead Blues ain't too far from the mid-point 'twixt the twain, and with the sweet lover-girl in the narrative, the rules are simple and direct and the rewards abundant, but if'n ya cross her, well take a look at the song's title. This is the kinda stuff Maria Muldaur loves.
And later days Muldaur isn't a bad comparison for Biales: especially catch In my Girlish Days. The two ladies have a lot of the same qualities, though Maria doesn't have Talton and that killer slide and dobro of his. In fact, that very song is the rawest of the CD and purposely so: Hornsby, who co-produced the disc, wouldn't let Biales and Kight do a re-take on the first run-through. Despite all pleading, he refused to relent, and he was right. The song shows what's running underneath much of the album, and a glossier version would have been really nice but would've deleted the grittier tang. I mean, Lisa and EG were right, as the later timbre would have matched the rest of the disc, but Hornsby was more on the mark here. Go ahead, listen to the cut and then ruminate on what the obvious cleaned up version would've been, it isn't difficult to discern, and tell me the latter shoulda been chosen. I dare ya.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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