Deb Rhymer says Don’t Wait Up

Here we have a lady with a name just made for writing songs…Deb Rhymer hails from Victoria, British Columbia. She began performing when she was 17 with a local rock band, Hostage. In 1997, however, Deb got involved in the blues with another band called No Fixed Address, and it was while with them that the pull of the blues began and grew. No surprise really, when you hear her voice as she has a timbre and style that perfectly suits our beloved genre. Deb’s debut album came out back in 2006 and now, on her latest release called Don’t Wait Up, she shows how the intervening time has informed her writing and, with a more than capable band behind her (plus some special guests) Deb has put together half a dozen co-writes that fit neatly with the four carefully chosen covers.

It starts off with a ‘traditional’ sounding shuffle that, courtesy of the instrumentation and the vocal melody makes the familiar very new. The guitar lines are backed neatly by the sax in the intro before we get a first taste of Deb’s soul biased vocals…but very blues too as she uses clever phrasing and that rare thing called perfect enunciation. The sax solo is just the right side of expressive as the tendency to make it scream is, thankfully, eschewed. OK it is familiar and new and won’t set the world alight but it is a great listen that lacks only a guitar feature for the lovely tone it has in the backing. Let Your Heart Decide is faster, funkier and the guitar is crystal clear with the picked intro…Deb again uses her voice so skilfully as she puts expression and emotion into a (relatively) laid back performance. The highlight for the guitar geek in me is the solo by Bill Johnson; it is carefully paced, picked and the right number of notes employed. The first cover is next with a take on the truly great Elmore James as we get a strong and innovative version of Cry For Me Baby. It sounds as though Mr Diddly was a guest the way the riff is played and the harp is there too of course…the guitar solo sounds almost hesitant but it is actually a very clever and complex piece of playing. The title track, Don’t Wait Up, brings us into ballad territory but the elegant vocals and sumptuous guitars make it a delight…the intro shows how to play chords with feeling, the backing and solo with a slide occasionally echoing adds to the atmosphere as the restrained depth of Deb’s vocals make this a song you could use as a lullaby for the blues lover in waiting. The next cover is a bit of a surprise as anyone trying to do James Brown’s I Got You (I Feel Good) runs the risk of pastiche…but the way that Deb and the band slow it down and transform it into an almost feline song making it sound very new while paying due homage to the original and mark it as a masterpiece of re-interpretation. Just Enough Blues is next and brings a piano to the fore as Deb let’s us know what a band consists of and name checks the Rolling Stones in the lyrics, while the band cleverly echo that period then a solo is picked brilliantly and even shoves a bit of country into the phrasing. There’s The Door is a track that takes a few listens to get into as Deb has a vocal duel with a trombone! After the swing and feel of the backing get under your skin you begin to appreciate this novel approach and it is actually huge fun even though the lyrics are about some poor guy being thrown out. Another cover next as we are treated to It Won’t Be Long, written by J. Leslie McFarland, and one of his many for Aretha Franklin…this one, I think from 1961. This kind of soul was never my favourite kind of song and, although Deb and the band do a very capable interpretation, it still doesn’t do a huge amount for me even though the imaginative and clever piano and guitar solos give it a lift. Gary Nicholson and Kelley Hunt who have composed many songs for many artists including one I remember from the film Urban Cowboy wrote Waking Up Slow. I cannot compare this to the original, but the treatment here gives us a sort of heavy country but bluesy feel with brilliant piano throughout and Deb again showing how good singing is about communication. The guitar solo, by the way, is really clever bottleneck and is too short…there’s a surprise! Final track, Giving Me The Blues is textbook blues from every instrument…listen to the careful, closed hi-hat playing as an example. The guitar chord punctuation and the Hammond swells put such feeling behind Deb’s vocal emotions. The solo uses different techniques to carry those emotions through a lovely, understated piece of guitar work.

This is an album that, to me at least, sets this lady high up in the order of blues singers…yes she has the voice but, with her band, she has proven to be adept at writing her own songs and, more unusually, has a seemingly unerring ability to take a cover version and make it different, better in some ways, and always makes it her own…a remarkable trait. This will remain on my regular playlist and will provide a tasty contrast to the rockier side of things as well as a stand alone…well worth a listen for all of the components of this fine album.

EIGHTpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Tracklisting:

  1. Heartache and Trouble (D.Rhymer, V. Wells)
  2. Let Your Heart Decide (D.Rhymer, B.Johnson)
  3. Cry for Me Baby (E. James)
  4. Don’t Wait Up (D.Rhymer, V. Wells)
  5. I Got You (I Feel Good) (J.Brown, M.Adouane)
  6. Just Enough Blues (Rhymer, Fawcett, Graffiti, O’Howe)
  7. There’s the Door (D.Rhymer)
  8. It Won’t Be Long (J.L.McFarland)
  9. Waking Up Slow (K.Hunt, G.Nicholson)
  10. Giving Me The Blues (D.Rhymer, W.Gogol)


Recorded, mixed and mastered byWynn Gogol at One Ton Studios Victoria BC Canada

Deb Rhymer says Don’t Wait Up

Musicians:

Deb Rhymer: vocals

Kelly Fawcett: guitar

Andy Graffiti: drums

Clayton O’Howe: bass



Special guests:

Wynn Gogol – keyboards tracks 5,6,10

Gene Hardy – saxophones track 1

Bill Johnson – guitar track 2

Randy Oxford – trombone track 7

Gary Preston – harmonica track 3

Neil Taylor – guitar solo track 8

David Vest – piano tracks 8, 9

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