Kellys Lot declares Can’t Take My Soul

I must admit that I was ignorant of Californian band Kelly’s Lot before listening to this latest release called Can’t Take My Soul. Disappointed too, as this is the twenty-fifth year and fourteenth album in their illustrious career. Formed in 1994 by Kelly Zirbes (which apparently is pronounced like ‘service’ and is probably the reason she likes to be known as Kelly Z…that will probably be Kelly Zee as opposed to Kelly Zed!), the band has been treading the boards with their blend of, predominately, blues and rock. The new release, however, has taken hints of country blues, Cajun, surf, gospel and R ‘n’ B and mixed them nicely to provide twelve new tracks that take a fresh look at the genres and even begin to teach us a new language as two tracks have English and French lyrics.

Opening track, All I Ever Want Is The Blues, as with all of the tracks are Kelly and Perry compositions and this one pays tribute and name checks numerous blues masters as the song builds on a solid R ‘n’ B framework. The guitar solo has a ‘twang’ that doesn’t echo any of the named players but is closer to the surf sound…and thoroughly enjoyable: and too short! All Hope Ain’t Lost is a swipe at the political sewers that seem to predominate in most countries, but suggests that there is some hope…the B3 gives some depth as the vocal weaves and sways around a subtle strummed phrase and the gentle picked solo is a real highlight. Alyssa is a heart wrenching song inspired by a youg woman who was diagnosed with a terminal illness at birth and yet lived until the, albeit very tender, age of twenty-three. This the best track for me, as the true blues background paints the picture as much as the lyrics. This is because all of the instruments play their part so well and the drums are simply inspired and then the guitar solo is picked carefully and thoughtfully with subtle runs and no histrionics. It is also a nice tribute to someone we never knew but now at least we can relate, a little, to the bravery of someone living a Damoclean life. The pace speeds up as we go all Cajun on Woe Is Me with accordion wheezing nicely throughout. It is a toe-tapper that is infectious and is saved from the over familiar by the chorus and the accordion solo has a washboard (hurrah!) ‘thimbling’ away nicely too. The tone changes to all-acoustic as Kelly and Perry duet on guitar and produce a slow blues that is tinged with a bit of country with Safe And Warm. It is, to me, a bit too similar in the phrasing of the vocals and guitar to many songs of this kind. Not to say it isn’t a good song, just that doesn’t stand out from the morass of similar missives. Now for our first French lesson as Jean-Francois Thomas growls in fine style on Rise Up (Leve-Toi). It is, I think either a love song or another political message (vive la Revolution). It is catchy and draws you in and when guest Rob Zucca cuts in with an inventive solo of crafted runs and picking it gets even more “play that again” fodder. Broke Myself is firmly in R ‘n’ B land and chugs along very nicely with a brilliant bass line and harp highlights. The vocals are pitched just right and the whole thing gels because of the formidable backline. Let It Breathe goes back to acoustic although, as this ballad unfolds, we get some tasty B3 and an electric guitar to keep it fresh and different. The bass is again the mainstay as McFadden lays subtle building blocks for the whole piece. It is a satisfying song made stronger by the Joplinesque closing couple of minutes. Dirt seems to be a soul-bearing epiphany translated into song…strong, sometimes spoken, lyrics are reinforced by the bass and drums with B3 warming it all up as the guitar lights it all up, although the slight Edge to it is a little disappointing. The next song moves into folk-singer territory as Kelly, backed by some exquisite acoustic, just needs a flower behind her ear as the “salty makes the sweet taste right” on Little Bit Of This. Not my choice, but it is a very good example of this style. The title track, Can’t Take My Soul, comes out of left field as surf rock with a snarl of what they call garage punk these days…the guitar is bang on surf style and it all comes together nicely as that era is perfectly realised…it cries out for a Link style solo but that doesn’t unfortunately materialise. Final track, Mon Ami, is our second lesson in speaking French as Kelly alternates effortlessly between the two languages backed by the Parisian café accordion sound. It has a lilt that is unforgettable and, although it will never be a regular in my listening choices, it is irresistible when it does come on. It even has Kelly (?) whistling and, surprisingly, it doesn’t induce any cringing as that affectation often does.

All in all, then, this is a lovely album of varied styles and emphases: it is one of those always welcome but not sought out kind of albums for me. I have, courtesy of their rather fine web site, listened too some of their earlier, more blues-rock, albums and I do prefer them but, as I say, this is always going to be a delight to listen to when the mood and accompanying beverage is right.

SEVENpawprint half inchdoodle paws out of TEN …

Track listing:

  1. All I Ever Want Is The Blues
  2. All Hope Ain’t Lost
  3. Alyssa
  4. Woe Is Me
  5. Safe and Warm
  6. Rise Up (Leve-Toi)
  7. Broke Myself
  8. Let It Breathe
  9. Dirt
  10. Little Bit Of This
  11. Can’t Take My Soul
  12. Mon Ami

All songs Written By – Kelly Zirbes and Perry Robertson

Recorded By: Perry Robertson


Kelly Zirbes: vocals, acoustic guitar

Perry Robertson: guitars

Bobby Orgel: piano, B3 on 2, 3, 8, 9

Matt McFadden: bass

Mike Sauer: drums

Michael Mason: drums on 4, 9

Eddie Baytos: accordion, washboard

Rob Zucca: lead guitar on 6

Frank Hinojosa: harmonica on 7

Jean Paul Monshe: accordion on 12

Jean-Francoise Thomas: vocals on 6

Jeri Goldenhar, Andrew Mushin, Jenna Mushin, Aviva Maloney: background vocals

Mixed By: Fred Paragano

Mastered By: Mike Milchner at Sonic Vision

Produced By Perry Robertson, Kelly Zirbes & Matt McFadden

Kellys Lot declares Can't Take My Soul

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