Northern Ontario blues singer/songwriter Sunday Wilde has certainly been a prolific recording artist over the past 14 years, with new outing Peace In Trouble being her ninth full-length release. She frequently collaborated with her partner Reno Jack (Rennie Frattura), a renowned roots/blues/rockabilly bassist, and their excellent joint album, Two, was released in 2017, just before Frattura’s passing.

Her previous releases have earned significant radio play hitting number one on Siriusxm Radio, Roots Music Report in Canada and on the Earshot Charts across Canada for blues. She has also received numerous nominations, including Best Blues Album for the 2019 Independent Music Awards, Best Blues Song Voters Choice for the IMA, and finalist in the ISC for Blues competition.

Peace In Trouble follows on from her 2019 release, Sunday Wilde and One-Eyed Jacks. The press release for the new album proudly declares “No drums & no guitars – Blues simply,” and that’s an accurate definition.There’s an interesting instrumental lineup here, with the core sound built around piano, clarinet and voice, with the harp work of special guest Harpdog Brown featured prominently on five of the 11 songs. His varied and potent contributions to the album certainly justify his receiving a “featuring” credit. Also making an appearance are Mike Carson on upright bass and Lex Riley on trombone.

The combination works well, for the clarinet, played by Mac Givens, adds a lighter touch to contrast with Wilde’s gutsy, sassy and soulful vocals on some of the tunes. The resulting retro sound resembles something you might have heard if you’d stumbled into a Chicago blues bar in the ‘30s or ‘40s. Adding to that atmosphere is the fact that the 11 tracks here were recorded on a real piano in Wilde’s living room. The pandemic situation meant Harpdog Brown had to record his parts in Edmonton, where engineer Greg Schultz did a fine job of integrating them.

The album kicks off in virile fashion with “Trouble,” featuring a bluesy piano intro soon joined by Brown’s full-blooded harp work. The tune showcases Wilde’s formidable pipes, as she laments ”he keeps following me and I’m wondering if he’s ever gonna let me be.” Bookending the album in fitting fashion is closing cut “Peace for Everyone” a gospel-inflected tune with a positive message.

Wilde describes the theme of the album as “female tales of love, trouble, peace, worry, men, advice and friendships,” and she explores these subjects with real insight on her original material.

The only cover here is of Willie Dixon’s “Home To Momma,” a slow and soulful rendering of what sounds like a deathbed confession. Making for a nice change of pace and tone is “Too Damn Cute,” a fun tune driven by boogie piano and more Harpdog harmonica. Piano and harp again combine neatly on the “Wondering If He Might,” while an equally suggestive mood is set by “He Does It” (“he does it one way in the daytime, and another way late at night”).

Similarly lighthearted is “One Day We Will,” described by Wilde as being “inspired by Harpdog Brown’s winter visit, a tale of a friend hoping to stay up late drinking whiskey with a brave man.” A good album to sip whiskey to. (Kerry Doole)