Katy Hobgood Ray featuring Dave Ray – I Dream of Water

Katy Hobgood Ray featuring Dave Ray – I Dream of Water

Katy Hobgood Ray featuring Dave Ray – I Dream of Water A slightly laid back album a wonderful countrified Blues album for your collection
Please Note: This is republished from 20th January 2020

Anyone who is a fan of the wonderful Huddie Ledbetter, or Leadbelly as he became known, already has my approval and so when I saw that Katy Hobgood Ray and Dave Ray were actively part of the Friends of Leadbelly group in the US, I liked them straight away! (If you don’t know Leadbelly’s work, start with the brilliant Gallis Pole and see how it should be done. (Veiled dig at a later band that specialised in taking such classics and claiming them as their own.)) In addition, their latest album, I Dream Of Water, is a refreshing mix of southern blues with a hint of soul, country and gospel with an element of swing thrown in. The ten tracks, inevitably, include one Leadbelly cover…the majestic Little Children’s Blues. The original had a heart-breaking spoken intro and painted graphic mental images of a child seeing his mother leave, never to return. In this couple’s capable hands it stays true in feel and even imparts a touch more emotion in the lovely slide work. Katy sings in a gentle and understated, yet effective way. I went straight to that cover, so let’s go back to the opener with the gently swing of Lollie Bottoms…this is a neat little song about the precarious living people face in and around the river and how it can nourish as well as destroy. It has a country/gospel feel that has a well-crafted slide interlude.

The theme continues with the blues piano intro and then countrified melodies of the verses and gospel-tinged chorus. Oh Devil shifts the pace up a little with a piano-led shuffle and Katy’s sensitive vocals. It also has a clever guitar section with the odd horny horn getting in on the act with suitably sleazy playing that fits nicely.

The title track is an atmospheric drum and keys led song of gentle quality, again on the subject of the potential for destruction that water can inflict. House Divided moves into rumba territory with a slow and infectious rhythm from the drums, keys, and guitar. Dave joins in on the vocals to give the song a different sound from the previous tracks but stays in keeping with the feel and a sparse piano interlude gives it a gravitas. Back to aqueous subjects on Dirty Water as Katy lays into the near desertion of the authorities following the disaster in New Orleans. This is very gospel in style that suits the subject matter and more clever keys and guitar. Des Allmends has sax and trumpet to change the feel if not the pace. It is saved by the short but sweet guitar and piano pieces with sympathetic horns not intruding. Dave is back on vocals as we get a short true blues with piano and guitar again carrying the day with their subtle and sure backing.

The final track, Kings, Queens and Jesters is listed as a bonus live track, and has piano leading with the backing lost in the relatively poor recording as Katy does her smoky jazz vocal nicely…unless the recording is supposed to evoke the aforementioned jazz club, with some audience talking audibly: if so, I guess it works although after the crystal clarity of the studio it doesn’t quite fit here in my humble…still a nice song though. This is a slightly laid back album but with so many fine melodies and some superb guitar work that, when the mood is right, this is an exceptional piece of work if you like you blues countrified. I know it will feature on my “lying back with a ciggy and a glass of wine and losing myself in another world” playlist.

Bluesdoodles Rating: Wonderful addition to you countrified blues collection

Track listing:

  1. Lollie Bottoms
  2. Washed Away
  3. Oh Devil
  4. I Dream Of Water
  5. House Divided
  6. Dirty Water
  7. Little Children’s Blues
  8. Des Allemands
  9. That Really Matters
  10. Kings, Queens And Jesters

Musicians:

Katy Hobgood Ray: vocals

Dave Ray: vocals

Greg Spradlin: dobro

Chuck Dodson: keyboards

Dave Hoffpauir: drums

Scott Frock: trumpet

Brad Walker: saxophone

Recorded at Fellowship Hall Sound, Little Rock, Arkansas

Katy Hobgood Ray featuring Dave Ray – I Dream of Water

(The iTunes run on track this time brought Keef Hartley back to the forefront of my mind…the Halfbreed album is brilliant and, after the spoken phone call when Keef gets sacked, Sacked is superb blues/rock/psyche with added class)

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