Doris Spears,
9 Fold Muse:
Blues For Grown Folks

(Freehold, 2002)

Every so often, I enjoy taking time to check those sites highlighting up-and-coming artists from the blues genre. It's truly amazing, the amount of talent currently performing out there, just waiting for their big break. One artist who captured my immediate attention was jazz/blues artist Doris Spears. After listening to a few sample tracks off her latest release, 9 Fold Muse: Blues For Grown Folks, I just sat back and said, "Wow!" I was totally moved by her incredible vocal talent, especially her charismatic, persuasive style heard on each of the album's 10 tracks. Spears delivers a sassy, soulful performance throughout, with a natural ease of storytelling that's smooth as silk.

Blues For Grown Folks highlights the true essence of Spears' vocal artistry, starting with the opening track, "Blues Got a Hold On You." This number has an upbeat, urban feel along with a sizzlin' sax solo from Angelo DiBraccio. Spears' vocals are vibrant and sultry, adding just enough emotional impact to keep you wanting more. "Jack of All Trades" changes gears with a slow, steady groove. A real seductive number as Spears elaborates about her man, flaunting his virility by way of his numerous professions. Midway through this blues shuffle is a blazin' lead solo, turning up the heat on an already steamy tune. The next track, "087193," is a bit lengthy, a song about her man behind bars. It sounds quite similar to the track before, making it difficult to stay attentive. "Voo Doo Doll" picks up the pace with it's hard-drivin', rockin' blues sound. There's some fine keyboard work here and a great harp solo. Spears vocals really shine, sounding bold, energetic and powerful.

Things slow back down with "Stolen Kisses," a slow blues ballad that's a perfect fit for Spears. She expresses a passionate vulnerability, reaching down into her well of emotion as Rob Paparozzi serves up some great harp work. One of the best tracks on the album and a personal favorite is "I Got You," a hip, sassy, R&B number that really gets your toes tappin'. Spears lets it loose vocally, building a crescendo right to the very edge of the scale before the lead guitar takes over with a blistering solo. The song talks about being in love, and Spears articulates that feeling with energetic joy and soulful versatility.

"I Believe" is a funky, hip tune that features dueling lead guitars. Spears saves her very best for last, closing with, "Cried My Last Tear." Written by Spears, the song has a gospel feel, as she delivers a powerful performance full of passion and sensitivity. This warm, touching ballad is a perfect ending to her new album.

Blues For Grown Folks, her second recording, follows her well-received debut album, The Duchess, from 1999. Known professionally as a jazz singer, Spears ventures beyond familiar territory and explores other avenues in music here -- she certainly demonstrates her intuitive understanding of blues and soul. Blues fans should welcome Spears with open arms and look for more from her in the future.

Spears is an incredibly talented singer with a voice that's intoxicating, vibrant, sultry, sassy, refined, passionate and absolutely charismatic. She has a remarkable ability to charm an audience, pulling listeners directly into each song with soulful emotion and smooth persuasion. I definitely recommend this album to both jazz and blues enthusiasts alike. This is one singer-songwriter who's well on her way to becoming one of the music industry's most talked about stars.

- Rambles
written by Pamela L. Dow
published 14 December 2002

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