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The best Blues you can buy this month

Album Review

Henry Yates on the latest releases from Ghalia & Mama’s Boys, The Cold Heart Revue, Gráinne Duffy, Tami Neilson and Jim Byrnes

Ghalia & Mama’s Boys - Let The Demons Out

Ruf Records have struck gold with Ghalia Vauthier, a fizz-and-pop livewire who probably scared the shit out of passing Eurocrats during early years busking in her native Brussels. Hacking across the States, the singer paired with Louisiana’s local heroes Mama’s Boys for this debut album, and together they’re an irresistible force, bashing out a set of sprightly floor shakers that would clean up in any Crescent City dive bar.

The Boys can certainly play, but Vauthier is the star. It’s not just that she wrote 10 of these songs, but also that she inhabits them, lip-smacking her fingertips in the rowdy 4am Fried Chicken, squeaking and purring through Hiccup Boogie’s anecdotage, or reeling off a boozy rider in All The Good Things that puts Keef’s shepherd’s pie to shame. That voice can do damage, too, swanking on Little Willie John’s I’m Shakin’ and roasting edgy standout See That Man Alone. She might just be the most interesting thing ever to come from the land of Brexit legislation. (8/10)

The Cold Heart Revue - Renegade Heart

Casuals will remember The Cold Heart Revue’s roots as a one-man acoustic troubadour, but David Robinson is equally convincing on this plugged-and-cranked EP. With barely a breath taken between them, I Can’t Get Started, Tattoo Girl and American Rain are everything the blues should be, played with fire, flair and urgency. Fabulous. (8/10)

Gráinne Duffy - Where I Belong

There’s a wonderful languid quality to County Monaghan songwriter Gráinne Duffy’s third album. The folk picking of Where I Belong is worthy of Nick Drake; My Love and Open Arms have shades of prime-time Sheryl Crow, Duffy’s voice nailing the ratio of grit and honey. It’s often mellow but rarely lightweight, a balancing act exemplified by stark instrumental finale Canyon Road. (7/10)

Tami Neilson - Don’t Be Afraid

Don’t Be Afraid is a family affair, released in tribute to the late Ron Neilson by his daughter Tami, who also co-wrote much of the material with her brother Jay. These songs reiterate the talent of all concerned, whether that’s Ron-penned stunners like Lonely, Tami’s extraordinary vintage-soul voice or the fiery brilliance of the siblings’ Holy Moses. (8/10)

Jim Byrnes - Long Hot Summer Days

When you’ve got the voice, you needn’t bother with the pen, and here Byrnes’s evocative delivery breathes fresh mojo into a covers set of his high-schoolfavourites. Bobby Bland’s Ain’t No Love In The Heart Of The City is sweet and sad; Percy Sledge’s Out Of Left Field is a sunset over a southern cornfield; Something Inside Of Me takes Elmore James to the wire. (7/10)

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