Sena Ehrhardt,
Live My Life
(Blind Pig, 2014)

In my reviews of Sena Ehrhardt's first two albums (posted 8 June 2013 and 25 February 2011), I praised her voice and her writing while downgrading her on production and arrangements. I won't be doing that this time. With Live My Life the strengths are stronger and the weaknesses are removed, as far gone as the memory of a childhood illness. This time around, Ehrhardt delivers on all the promise her first two albums suggested. This one, confident, strong and as self-assured as a movie star who has just won an Oscar, takes Ehrhardt to another, deeper level, makes her an important figure in the future of the blues.

Her father, who co-wrote the material with her on her first two albums and played lead guitar on them is gone and his absence shakes up the dynamics, causing changes on almost all levels of the album. Her writing, mostly co-written with new guitarist Cole Allen, is as strong and confident as her singing; in fact, the two songs she composed by herself indicate that she doesn't need a co-writer at all.

And her choice of covers is first-rate. She makes Albert Collins' "If Trouble Was Money" sound new again and rescues Larry Williams' "Slow Down" from oblivion, bringing out the humor in it.

This time out, instead of a backup trio playing all the arrangements, additional musicians are brought in as needed; the song determines who plays on it. As a result, the band is still guitar-driven, but we're treated to imaginative uses of keys, extra percussion and slide guitar.

The only response a reasonable listener can make to Sena Ehrhardt's Live My Life is to scream for more.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

21 February 2015

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