Counting her live album, this is Gráinne Duffy’s fifth release and follows the 2017 triumph that was Where I Belong; also reviewed here on Bluesdoodles. How her talents haven’t been more widely recognised, I will never know: Gráinne has a deep understanding blues and its offshoots (always with a Celtic outlook) that she, with long time collaborator and guitarist extraordinaire Paul Sherry, has distilled wonderfully on the new album enticingly called Voodoo Blues.
In case this is your first encounter, Gráinne is, unsurprisingly, Irish and grew up surrounded by the music of the local church and artists such as Aretha Franklin and The Rolling Stones. The really good news is that she is also a big follower of Peter Green and, no doubt, like many felt his loss earlier this year…fortunately his influence will last forever; especially with talented artists like this filtering his styles and feel in new music, so a heartfelt thank you from me for doing such a good job. Newcomers should also prepare themselves for this listening experience to cost them money…you will want to buy Gráinne’s other four albums!
To the music and the title and lead off track is blues rock personified: Voodoo Blues has it all with a guitar/vocal intro that mesmerises from the first note. it then builds into a ‘stomp along’ and adds a chorus that will stay forever…voice and band combine for a superlative start.
Mercy is a little slower and puts a different slant on the blues via her fabulous vocals and Paul’s instinctive chord and lead work…the rest of the band are bloody good too and they connect seamlessly. Blue Skies would be a chart hit in any sane world: catchy, sing-a-longable with loads to listen out for in the complex and tasty instrumentation…it may move a little toward poppy but is so catchy that all is forgiven as it carries you away and you join in without realising. Sounding like the start to Can’t Explain (as done by Yvonne Elliman, not the Who original, although Mr Townsend did do the guitars), Shine It On Me quickly moves into a southern tinged rock song with another catchy as a catchy thing chorus…the only downside is that the guitar solo is too short. Don’t You Cry For Me sounds a little like early Stones got gospel and had a Hammond! It is a slower, atmospheric and quite beautiful soulful blues ballad that only lacked a bit more from the organ…but that’s probably just me. Roll It starts a bit Creedence (not a bad thing) but quickly grows bluesy with yet another great chorus. The keys and guitar are triumphant again but don’t get any solos, unfortunately.
Wreck It Up is blues-rock with just a hint of Stones…the bass guitar on this one needs close attention, simply because it is so good. Hurrah! A guitar solo…but too short and a bit low in the mix; still nice though. No Matter What I Do has a country blues feel that may start languid, but the vocals soon draw you happily into emotions and depth of the song: the bridge is ingenious and cried out for a solo but Paul was putting some wonderful phrases behind the vocals I almost forgive them. Tick Tock starts with…a tick, tock and develops into a glorious hefty blues-rock that gets better with every listen…and you will be singing “yeah, yeah, yeah” for a long time to come. The guitar is again masterful behind the vocals but, to a guitar freak like wot I am, it left me wanting more.
The final track, Hard Rain, is to my fertile or febrile imagination is a field song put to a heavy blues structure with a hint of gospel all rounded out with Gráinne’s superb vocals.
This is a fabulous album that, as I may have mentioned, lacks only some highlighted instrumental sections…I can’t help it, but with players of this quality I really wanted a few more solos. That is the only criticism because Gráinne puts in such a mesmerising performance on every track and she is peerless at the soul-tinged, emotion-drenched blues vocals that I have, once again, fallen in love! Give this a listen then buy it and don’t forget, if you don’t have them, there are four more albums to put in your basket!
Bluesdoodles rating: A Wonderful album of wonderful blues sung wonderfully.
1. Voodoo Blues
3. Blue Skies
4. Shine It On Me
5. Don’t Cry For Me
6. Roll It
7. Wreck It Up
8. No Matter What I Do
9. Tick Tock
10. Hard Rain
Grainne Duffy: Vocals, Lead Guitar/ Rhythm Guitar/Acoustic Guitar
Paul Sherry: Backing Vocals, Lead Guitar/ Rhythm Guitar/Acoustic Guitar
Shawn Davis: Bass Guitar
Troy Miller: Drums, Keyboards
(The iTunes run-on track technically is more Gráinne, but in the interests of variation, I ended up giving the heavy blues of Graveyard a spin…their 2011 debut, Hisingen Blues is Blue Cheer for the modern age.)