Long ago and far away in a mythical obtuse land known only as 'the 70s', I favored a number of female singers who possessed what Janis had lit the world afire from: soul, blues, rock, a passionate form of novo-madrigal, and pure heart. This circle of chanteuses included Janita Haan (from Babe Ruth, and my all-time fave woman singer), Inga Rumpf (Atlantis, Frumpy, solo), Maggie Bell (Stone the Crows, Midnight Flyer), Genya Ravan (10 Wheel Drive, solo), and of course Bonnie Bramlett (Delaney & Bonnie, solo). Well, it's at this time in various cultures that such an ilk of singer has been slowly seen to be rising once more, and Ingrid Gerdes is as good as they come, a no-nonsense, listen-up, don't-mess-with-me-dammit! singer who's, as the promo lit exhorts, "sure of herself and in command". That's more than evident from the opening refrains all the way through to the closing notes of the eleventh cut.
I'm a pretty sarcastic s.o.b. and love a good solid verbal confrontation with just about anyone, but Gerdes is one of those rare women whom I'd think twice about locking horns with. Just listening to her sing, I can see the fire in those sea-green eyes and feel that set backbone daring the unwise to mess with her and think they could get away with it. The cover shot indeed has her seeming to be a cross between an Arthurian High Priestess and a witchy woman, the latter buttressed by her bayou plaints and very soulful ways skillfully underscored by Milt Reder's cutting guitar work. Listening to the disc before I ventured into the liner notes, I was also thinking "Why are those drums so damn well appointed?" Of course, the answer was simple: it was Mark Texeira, the Stony Plain label's mainstay, Duke Robillard's skinspounder, a guy who knows the shortest distance between two points and exactly how to get there. The guy reminds me of the Two Tonys: Braunagle and Brock.
Ingrid eschews the term 'neo-soul', which is indeed just another marketing device, and well she should, as Priestess is worthy of having appeared on the 60s and 70s Motown label or some of those cool old Rare Earth imprint LPs. In fact, I'd love to hear her teamed up with the most soulful white male singer ever: Glenn Hughes (sans, of course, that outrageously righteous screaming he does, as it just wouldn't fit here) or even the aforementioned Bramlett. No, wait a minute, the latter would be too much even for me, my heart couldn't take it! Favorite song? That's a hard choice. Maybe Water through Your Hands: slinky as hell, slow, fiery, languid but smokin', temptacious while daunting. Of course, the funky spunky Someone Else's Problem is just as alluring, as though Sea Level brought her in for some of their Southern hipshake and sway, and, er, um, come to think of it, I can't choose a fave. They're all excellent…and she still spooks me with that American Amazon personna of hers. Fascinating.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
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