Sweet Jay-zus, but half the SouthWest must’ve dropped in for this soulful blues session! No less than 26 musicians jump in and out of the swingin’, searin’, sassy Raise Your Hands CD, ‘n take a look at a few of just who they are: Reese Wynans, the Roomful of Blues Horns, Damon Fowler, Big Llou, Jimmy Thackery, and waaaaay too many peeps to list. Long Tall Deb (Deb Landolt) has a way with words, writing almost all the lyrics here, and misses not a trick, understanding what accords with tradition and then pushing it hard…but it’s that voice and no-back-off attitude that marks her most winning way. Like Etta James, she ain’t about to hold her mouth, take no guff, and is determined to get what she wants. Let’s Get Lost makes that more than apparent. No idea who arranged this entire mess o’ cool-ass git-down, but my money’s on either John Popovich or the combination of him and her, as a good deal of the music’s center finds itself in Popovich’s keyboards. Talk about on the money! Between the arrangements and pristine engineering by a masterful trio (Cody Ramshack, Mark Puskarich, and Dave Clo), the entire disc contends itself as a damn perfect environment.
Deb’s now on Vizztone but could just as easily have signed to the equally solid Yellow Dog label and companioned John Black over there, she more trad than he but with that certain sharp something that identifies both as out of the box halfway between Motown and Tejas. Both labels are cutting the leading edges of modern blues and roots-oriented musics, so Landolt represents an interesting vector point. Every track here stands out, not a mediocre song in the dozen, and they contain everything you come to the roadhouse for, especially the fight-back anthem in the title track, a gritty birdflip to the mean ol’ world that provoked the blues in the first place. And you know that, sooner or later, it’s gonna be time for churchgoin’, so Deb brings the chapel to you in To Find His Home, not only to save ya the time but to get you down on your knees and testifying.
The choice of closing down with The Immortal Tom (Waits) in an appropriately mellow reading of New Coat of Paint was a wise one. Kept short and sweet, it’s an ode to the art of bleary reflection, a kind of shoulder shrug, half defiant, half resigned, and in itself a chance to regain a normal pulse rate after so many jumping cuts. Long Tall Deb comes to the stage firing on all six, cocky, confident, and, when necessary, cool as you please (there are, after all, a couple of ballads here as well), but, Lord, is she ever bedded down in exactly the right patch! It’s oft said that too many cooks spoil the soup, but t’ain’t true here, bubba, ’cause you get a 12-course all-you-can-eat gourmet meal with all the trimmings and gravy too. Dig in, I say, and don’t worry about who pays the check. Y’ain’t gonn run across this very damn often.
Mark S. Tucker