It’s been said that no one is singing protest songs these days but whoever said that hasn’t checked out Gaye Adegbalola. This founding member of Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women has never stopped being uppity. Now 74, she sees herself in the role of Griot, the African custodian of oral history and storytelling and her stories are most certainly worth telling. About half the album takes on political and social themes while the other half tackles relationships past & present. The opener is the first single, a hard-hitting diatribe on racism today called “Nothing Has Changed”. After a spoken interlude on what it means to be a griot, she launches into the hilarious “Liearrhea”, a cleverly-written description of a certain President. The desperate plight of hotel maids is the subject of the traditional blues-styled “Dirty Sheets”. The frightful toll of pollution is flagged with “(You’re) Flint Water”. On the relationship side she tackles old age with “Gon’ Be Alright” and mental illness: “Nothing Left (To Hold but My Tongue)”. “3 Hour Shoes” will bring a smile to your face as she describes getting dressed for church in her finest clothes but then realizing that her uncomfortable shoes were reminding her that that’s not what you go to church for – a quite remarkable three-minute sermon on vanity. “Need A Little Sugar in My Bowl” covers sex – in the never-subtle Adegbalola way. It’s taken from the Bessie Smith version and she then channels Ma Rainey in a tale of betrayal called “Jelly Bean Blues”, both loving tributes to the classic blues singers. These are just a few of the 17 songs in this generous package, each song very well written & performed in a well-sequenced program of acoustic and electric. Her musical partner throughout is Jeff Covert on guitars & banjo but there is a large cast present on keyboards, backup vocals, percussion and horns. A most ambitious and successful album, her web site is www.adegbalola.com. 

March 2019 - Dashboard Rattle