Robin Rogers,
Back in the Fire
(Blind Pig, 2010)

Florida blues lady Robin Rogers offers smoky, sultry, Chicago-based blues that, when you listen to it, makes you feel you're in a small, smoky basement club late at night with maybe a couple too many bourbons in you and you're not sure how you feel, whether you're happy or sad. It's great stuff.

Her voice is strong, clear and sharp, a perfect blues voice that resonates with a sensation of pain and hard living and her harp playing matches her voice. When I hear Rogers play harmonica, I picture Little Walter shooting dice in an alley outside a club, and when I hear Rogers' band, led by her guitarist husband Tony Rogers, play ballads and shuffles, I want to be there; whatever else I'm doing recedes and the music shoots straight into my bloodstream.

Take it from me; this is great stuff.

A couple of shuffles start the album off. "Baby Bye Bye" is about the end of a relationship, and Rogers sounds happy to be out of it, but the song still aches with an overriding sadness. The next one, "Second Time Around," picks up the pace and features Rogers' harmonica, but it also sets the major tone of her CD, which is fairly dark but also kind of bright around the edges. As a lyricist and as a singer, Rogers is a master at creating tension, working opposite elements into the music so that her songs resonate with an almost electric force.

Robin Rogers is a major talent. The woman exudes soul and ability. There's nothing to do but listen to her.

NOTE: In August, just after delivering this album to her record company, Robin Rogers was diagnosed with inoperable liver cancer. She died Dec. 17.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

29 January 2011

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