Val Starr & The Blues Rockets
LIGHTER SIDE OF THE BLUES
Sandwich Factory Records
Genre-Straddling Rocking Blues with a Heart Full O’ Soul
This little gem very nearly got missed because it arrived very late; because of the ‘Christmas Post’ and; cough …….. the actual cover artwork isn’t too inspiring, so it kept getting passed over.
But; and again it’s only thanks to my trusty I-Phone ‘shuffle’ that it came to light last week on a cold and windswept midnight drive home from work.
I will come to the song that caught my attention later, as it’s now a contender for Favourite Song status; which is quite something on this quite eclectic bunch of self-penned songs from California’s Valerie Starr Ellis and Company.
As we all know, ‘The Blues’ comes in many hues and now I’ve played this album half a dozen times, Val Starr doesn’t just blur the Blues lines but injects more than a smidgen of Soulful Jazz too in several of the arrangements; starting with opening track Say Goodbye to The Blues (Like You Mean It); which sweeps, swoops and swings like Dinah Washington or perhaps Koko Taylor fronting the Stax House Band on a steamy Friday night!
The guitar intro to the next song, Sactown Heat is so cool I got a shiver down my back the first time I heard it; and when Val smoothly joins the ‘beat’ you know you are not just listening to a ‘special song’ but a Special singer and band too.
I don’t get to hear as many albums as you’d expect where the band can crank up the tempo at will and never sound like they are trying to outshine the vocalist’ and The Blues Rocket manage that with great aplomb; most memorably on the sultry Can’t Get Sad Tonight and the track that initially caught my attention; 24 Hour Blues; which adds a nice touch of Spector-lite pop to the melody as Val drops a few musical time-bombs in her lyrics.
There are plenty of songs here that deserve a big video to run alongside them; with All or Nuthin’ Man being set in a sleazy nightclub at closing time; and for the crunchy and contemporary Shame on You it should be a parody of Some Like it Hot, with Val playing Marilyn of course.
While The Blues Rocket seamlessly play about with genre-defying melodies The Blues in every shape and form are never far away; as the titles make clear; Lighter Side Of The Blues and The Blues Don’t Pick or Choose with it’s soul piercing sax solo are both as timeless as their titles suggest; but don’t particularly sound like any songs I can think of.
As well as 24 Hour Blues; two other songs really stand out from a fascinating bunch of songs; Big Boss Man (#MeToo) find’s Val Starr bringing this Classic song right up to date with a very clever; and literal 21st Century twist to it; but my actual Favourite Song (by a whisker) is If She Can Get a Man (Anyone Can); which is a good ole stomper but with added spice and sass in the style of both Denise LaSalle or Barbara Carr; whom I adore.
So; there we have it ……… another little musical gem that I’ve found for you ….. enjoy and buy …. don’t Spotify!
Released January 2nd 2020