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Professin' the Blues
By Bob Brown
Fiona Boyes' appearance (and win) at the IBC in 2003 was the United States' introduction to this Australian which was the first time the IBC was won by a female and the first time by a non-American. Since then her international career has taken off. She performed at the Louisville Blues, Brews and BBQ, nee Water Tower Festival in 2007. Her finger picking was remarkable, on electric guitar as well as acoustic.
Fast forward 9 years and 6 CD releases later, she recorded this CD which is an experimentation of different guitars (acoustic guitars, resonators and a cigar box guitar) and tunings as she experiments with the sounds of the Mississippi Delta, New Orleans during the classic era of 1920 blues, and some more modern sounds. These songs were recorded live in the studio with no effects, overdubs etc.
Each of the songs is described in the liner notes as to how she was inspired to write or perform them, along with guitar information, and accompanying musicians. Instrument descriptions include for example (on "Old and Stiff") "National Reso-phonic guitar, double bass, drums, and percussion (including the funny thing that goes 'Boing'", or (on "Stubborn Old Mule") "Maton acoustic guitar, double bass and cardboard box percussion". Musicians include Boyes on guitar and all vocals, Jimi Bott on percussion and Denny Croy on bass.
The performance and feel of the music is of a simpler time. Her delivery of these songs is similar to Rory Block's releases of the older artists' music, but with more emphasis on the vocals and simpler, less complex, but appropriate, and well performed guitar work. Of the 16 songs on the CD, all but a couple are originals ("Baby Please Don't Go", and "Face in the Mirror"). What I like about Boyes' music is that after all of her releases, she is still pulled back to early blues rather than (as is more likely to pay the bills) rock.
This CD is not for everybody. If you are looking for rollicking, danceable, good times-tunes, this is not the one. If you are looking for some music that is honest and harks back to older principles of blues music and unencumbered musicianship, this is for you.