‘The Ice Queen’ certainly does not refer to Sue Foley’s relationship with her friends in Texas, particularly the ones she made during her lengthy sojourn at Clifford Antone’s famous club. She went back to record her first solo album in some time and the result proves how smart a move that was, even if she has moved to broaden her musical palette from straight ahead blues. She opens with the first single, a radio-friendly swamp-meets-Bo Diddley “Come To Me”, with Bob Dylan’s longtime guitarist Charlie Sexton on slide and duet vocal. “81” is a quite marvellous highway song, Interstate 81 runs from Upstate New York south, a route she often took. “Run” harkens back to some of the rocking blues tunes she recorded for Antone’s. “The Ice Queen” is the second single, a monster slow blues and a most obvious choice for the album title. She sings that she got the name because she’s ‘cool and detached’ but by the end she explains ‘the last man she let in tore her heart apart’ – not the first song on this subject but her deeply personal delivery and especially her magnificent guitar solo says it all, it’s a highlight of her live shows. She also calls herself the ice queen here because she’s from Canada but that probably works better at her American shows. “The Lucky Ones” is a glorious R&B duet with Jimmy Vaughan and the third single. They marvel at the fact they both are still going strong after all this time. “Gaslight” rocks along aided and abetted by members of the Tedeschi Trucks Band. “Fool’s Gold” has a great Jimmy Reed groove with ZZ Top’s Billy F Gibbons on duet vocals and adding guitar & harmonica. “If I Have Forsaken You” is a departure into soul blues for Ms. Foley, emphasized by a Bobby “Blue” Bland arrangement played by the Texas Horns. “Send Me To The ‘Lectric Chair” is the Bessie Smith song and a wonderful performance it is, perhaps related to the relationship behind “The Ice Queen”. The ballad “Death Of A Dream” with just acoustic guitar, upright bass & light drums is even more of a departure. In a style reminiscent of Lonnie Johnson, she tells the story of that relationship. The flamenco-blues hybrid “The Dance” is not quite as big a departure as she has recorded in this style at least once before. If you were at the Women’s Blues Revue this past November you saw the song accompanying Flamenco dancer Carmen Russo. If you drive down Interstate 81, you pass Bristol, Tennessee where the Carter Family recorded, Maybelle Carter being a big influence on guitar. Ms. Foley concludes with a lovely solo acoustic version of their “Cannonball Blues”. There are too many other players to list here but this is very much a Sue Foley album, with kudos to keyboard wiz/producer Mike Flanigin for the live-off-the-floor excitement. With a JUNO win and multiple MBA nominations already, don’t be surprised to see this one on both lists. The CD Release here is scheduled for March 9 & 10 at the Cadillac Lounge.

Loose Blues News - March 2018
March 2018 - Jack de Keyzer