After the hard rocking Fish Out Of Water last year, Crystal Shawanda returns to the blues with Voodoo Woman. She’s Ojibwe and this time out she’s paying tribute to the blues women she grew up listening to on the Wikwemikong reserve on Manitoulin Island, in sparkling new arrangements. One very important blues woman to her was Koko Taylor. We start off a storming “Wang Dang Doodle” blended with “Smokestack Lightning”, led by Dewayne Strobel’s roaring slide and Stephen Hanner’s harp. Crystal clearly has learned her lessons well. Janis Joplin’s version of “Ball and Chain” benefits enormously from Danna Robbins’ marvellous sax work and Crystal’s powerful, do-it-her-own-way vocal. Koko’s “Voodoo Woman” is straightahead Chicago blues with Hanner’s harp leading the way. Big Mama Thornton gets another nod with a rocking “Hound Dog”. Etta James would be no surprise on this list and her “I’d Rather Go Blind” gets a tremendous workout. The bluesiest track on Fish Out Of Water is conveniently repeated here: “Trouble” is a fine, hard rocking original that holds up well in this company and has great horn charts. Dorothy Moore’s famous ballad “Misty Blue” slows the pace down a bit, Robbins’ sax work is a treat and Crystal nails the vocal. “Cry Out For More” is a Shawanda original, a strong slab of R&B. “Blue Train” was a highlight of The Whole World’s Got The Blues. This tribute to the murdered missing women is a very good song and one that needs to be heard. Crystal Shawanda may have started out in country music and she may well go back there but she is one fine blues singer. The web site is www.crystalshawanda.co.

John's Blues Picks January 2018 - Billy Joe Green
January 2018 - Matt Anderson