Deb Ryder,
Grit Grease & Tears
(Bejeb Music, 2016)

Deb Ryder has a voice that stops you in your tracks -- so if you haven't heard her before, you're likely saying "Who is that?" at your first exposure. It's a strong, masculine voice, but at the same time thoroughly feminine and thoroughly her. Deb Ryder does not sound like anybody else.

She is deeply into the blues and obviously enjoys surrounding herself with the best players she can round up: Albert Lee on guitar, Kenny Gradney on bass and Sugar Ray Rayford on additional vocals. These players appear as guest artists; her regular band is tight and polished, but with the ragged edge that good blues demands.

These guys cook, and Ryder cooks along with them. The uptempo stuff, of which there is plenty, gives the artists an opportunity to stretch out, while the ballads provide Ryder and her crew with a chance to grab a song, gift-wrap it and present it to us like a birthday present.

Ryder, as executive producer, keeps a tight grip on the proceedings and never makes the mistake of having the basic band lay down tracks that consist of repetitive standard blues riffs. Her arrangements are strong and contain unusual choices. Horns are brought in where they're needed, an additional piano when both the organ sound and the piano is required, a harmonica in lieu of the horn section when the sound demands.

Occasionally, her writing lets her down, but on the whole Deb Ryder picks it up, works it through her hands and tosses it out to us to enjoy.

music review by
Michael Scott Cain

10 December 2016

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