Thursday, 26 February 2015

Mahalia Barnes & The Soul Mates - Ooh Yea! The Betty Davis Songbook, album review

All Aboard

What riches: I reviewed the excellent Eliza Neals yesterday where her powerful vocals are variously graced with the fantastic fretwork  of Detroit axeman Howard Glazer and guest Kid Rock sideman Kenny Olson to produce the highest quality blues rock; and today I have been listening to another powerhouse chanteuse, Mahalia Barnes, howling out the raunchy songs of Betty Davis to the accompaniment of the phenomenon that is Joe Bonamassa, both in his work ethic and guitar playing, to produce the highest quality funk rock. Double trouble of the most enticing kind.

Ooh Yea! The Betty Davis Songbook delivers its own kind of supreme sass, although that musical impudence obviously has its roots in Davis' notorious if not, at the time, hugely successful singing and writing career. I'm not that informed about Davis as an artist but can recommend a superb review of Barnes' album here which is knowing about Davis [I wish I had written this] and will quote from that the line 'Returning to life’s ironies, however, the legacy of a woman who sang so often of pleasures down under has received a boost from just that location' in highlighting Barnes' own roots as an Australian and daughter of solo artist and Cold Chisel lead singer, Jimmy Barnes.

Various roots, influences and individual talents noted, this is an album of sustained high intensity where Barnes and Bonamassa pretty much belt it out like a train steaming forward without slowing, turning, running quiet, or stopping for fuel as it runs on the propelling vapors of its own music-making. Less varied then than Neals' Breaking and Entering, but there is little interesting mileage in making any comparison. Instead, you should just grab on to either journey driven by female singing of the most compelling kind, and in the album being reviewed here today, hear in Barnes a homage that takes on board its own fine vocal trajectory. Another great band in The Soul Mates too.

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