Veteran Vancouver singer Dalannah Gail Bowen’s last album featured only virtuoso bassist Owen to stunning effect. This time out she has assembled a full band under the direction of Michael Creber. The basic band was made up of Andreas Schuld on guitar, Chris Nordquist on drums, Miles Hill, Olaf de Shield, Brian Newcombe, Rob Becker. There is a horn section and a female chorus plus Jim Byrnes dropped by for a duet. The title song leads off with the 74-year-old Matriarch “Looking Back” and seeing a full life. It’s a strong gospel outing with a gorgeous backing chorus. “What the Hell is That?” might also be called ‘Hippie Blues’, she turns on the tv and hears one of her favourite 60’s anthems being used to sell coffee. This almost talking blues features harmonica and slide guitar. For someone who’s been a social activist all her life this must have been seriously depressing. The Sojourners join her for “Down to the River”, another gospel highlight with the horns and a sax solo – the river will wash your troubles away. The duet with Jim Byrnes is “Don’t Mess Up A Good Thing” with Dalannah asking for him to stop playing around and Byrnes singing that that would actually mess up the good thing – well done. Donny Hathaway’s “Tryin’ Times” is another almost talking blues that doesn’t refer to this trying time but it’s not too hard to make that fit – another highlight. Percy Mayfield’s “Danger Zone” starts out with the solo bass the way we normally hear it but Dalannah has the band join in with fine contributions from harp & guitar. Mose Allison’s “Everybody’s Crying Mercy” is also remarkably appropriate for something recorded last summer. While the concluding “Look Ahead” shares the backing chorus with the opening “Looking Back”, this last one is not autobiographical. Opening with the drums that reflect her Cherokee heritage, she quotes Chief Dan George to give us a powerful environmental message about the proper way to look at the planet. A major effort from a major blues voice, you must check it out, her web site is www.dalannah.com. 

May 2020 - Wayne Nicholson & John Campbelljohn
May 2020 - Philip Sayce