Ann Rabson,
In a Family Way
(Emit Doog, 2005)

The 13 songs on In a Family Way, originals by Ann Rabson and others, are classic female blues.

"Little Red Wagon" is a jaunty, swing-flavored cover of the classic Georgia White song. "See See Rider" is a blues piece that shows off Rabson's deep smoky voice. So does "Little Chickee Wah Wah," a peppy, raucous number in which the singer challenges the one who vowed her love to go to the next level: "Tell me chickee wah wah what we gonna do."

"Do Your Duty" is very reminiscent of "Respect" in that a woman wants her propers from her man. It stands well on its own but comparisons will definitely be made. Then there is the very haunting "Midnight Hour Blues." "I Can't Get My Mind Off You" is just plain fun and everything from TV to genre gets in the way of memory.

"Hopin It'll Be All Right" is a meditation by a woman who is hoping her man will change. As a compassionate song, sung from within the persona of an abused woman, it makes one understand why the woman won't give up her hope. "I'm no good for my baby and my baby's just no good. ... It never is tomorrow I just keep trying to make it all right, make it all right this time." Rabson balances this dangerous patience by another song, "I'd Rather Be Alone," in which the woman is stronger and has chosen being alone over being with a moody guy who strings her along.

Many of the lyrics are not only quite singable but so succinct one could easily lift them from the song. In "Blindsided," a betrayal song that many will identify with, you'll hear "Ashes to ashes and dust to dust, I thought I found someone I could trust." Or "ABC XYZ you sure pulled that old double-cross on me" and "Lavender Green Lavender Blue I never should have taken my eyes off you."

But the album is not only about troubles with men. There are songs about the world at large. Two songs that don't deal with love are "Go Where the Bad People Go" ("I don't want heaven, it's not my thing. I'd rather be with my family and friends where the bad people go") and "A Better World," which calls to mind John Lennon's "Imagine." Whether the singer is speaking about the Biblical heaven or a heaven-on-earth, it's a sweet sentiment.

"I Want to Hop on Your Harley" reminds us that in this land of car lovers, people also love motorcycles. It's both a tribute to motorcycles and a risque ditty that the listener could interpret as she pleases.

"Three Hundred Pounds of Joy," with its New Orleans-meets-Chicago flavor, is a paean to all plus-size women showing that sexuality isn't limited to thin bodies. ("You'll get three hundred pounds of heavenly joy.")

Violinist Mimi Rabson, Dave Harris on trombone and organ, Kenji Rabson on upright bass, Liz Rabson-Schnore on rhythm guitar and Steve Rabson on jazz piano contribute to the sound.

- Rambles
written by Carole McDonnell
published 1 October 2005

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