Blues that flow deep and true on every number recorded for this debut album from Carolyn Gaines. Beware Of My Dog, is a mix of re-imagined and worked classics and her own numbers. Beware Of My Dog perhaps is a double-entendre loved by the genre. The album could be named Beware of My Voice, as Carolyn’s vocals say I am coming to cast a blues spell over you.
Like many debuts, the opening track is the title track. It opens with a spoken cast of blues players that have and continue to inspire. Listen to the fine instrumentation and colouring you hear the echoes from Hound Dog, connecting you to Big Mama Thornton and Elvis Presley. This is no imitation and the tenor-sax lead break is stunning. Carolyn’s vocals are warm and determined this is a singer not to be messed with she means it when she sings Beware of My Dog.
Now it is well known that dogs and cats often don’t get on I’m Your Cat, Baby sits perfectly following on from the title track reinforces that Carolyn and her band are a smooth and stormy act to be reckoned with. The beat smooths out with the harmonica that sings with a melodic refrain that curls around the vocals as we are Stone Out Your Raggly Mind. This is picked up by the sax that is stunning as her vocals shape and bend the lyrics this is singing that comes as natural as talking to this talented vocalist.
Now for an exploration of the nearly covers! First up is Hoochie Coochie Woman. Starts off similar to Muddy Water’s I’m Your Hoochie Coochie Man. Then with a beat of the drum, it changes and this becomes a song owned by a woman. It is modern and the lyrics have shifted that makes you once again really listen to the re-working of a classic. This album is stinging blues now for a change of tone as David Junior Kimbrough’s Done Gone Old is explored around the tongue of Carolyn. Her vocals have a dark timbre that is personal, mischievous and slightly dangerous working so well in contrast to the acoustic guitar. We now have a change of blues tempo and colouration with country blues that dances. Played with a lightness of touch and is fun inspired but never dictated by Blind Boy Fuller’s I Want A Piece Of You. Carolyn and the band are having a good time and no-one can resist the foot-tapping beat and energy of Mr. Dill Pickles.
I Want Your Money Honey. This is the darker Carolyn’s vocals we are treading on dangerous waters if we challenge the interpretation of the blues, fuelled with rock n’ roll and the rawness of the vocal interpretation of the lyrics.
The harmonica on Jerry Rice – Busy man is the perfect foil for Gaines vocals on this country blues number. Her blues song is written in dedication to her Mum and Buddy Guy as we are treated to some wonderful harmonica playing on Charlie Mae & Chicago. Closing out the album with an organ opening that immediately gains your attention is a remake of Big Jay McNeeley’s Something On Your Mind. You are left loving Gaines varied and consistent interpretation of blues that is modern and exciting. A debut album that leaves you wanting to hear more.
A celebration of the distinctive vocal tone that has a roughness that is never smoothed into something it isn’t. Her vocals are full of warmth and expression.
Carolyn Gaines – Beware Of My Dog – Polka Dot Records
EIGHTdoodle paws out of TEN …
- Beware of My Dog
- I’m Your Cat, Baby
- Stone Out Your Raggly Mind
- Catch That Train
- Hoochie Coochie Woman
- Done Got Old
- I Want Your Money, Honey
- Mr. Dill Pickle
- Jerry Rice “Busy Man”
- Charlie Mae & Chicago
- Something on Your Mind