Debbie Davies - Holdin' Court
Little Dipper Records
With this guitar instrumental release Debbie Davies joins the ranks of blues guitar sponges Anson Funderburgh and 'Steady Rollin' Bob Margolin as possessors of a wide ranging arsenal of blues guitar styles and riffs. Debbie stretches out her solos to visit various influences. At times more than one on any given song.
Anchored by her tight rhythm section she gets the proceedings going with a funky version of Duke Robillard's “Fishnet”. Punctuated by what appears to be synthesized horns. As no horn players are listed in the credits. Over this backing she lays on a string assault of the highest order. “Tryin' To Keep It Real” is a slow plaintive blues leading to some intense string bending. On Bill Doggett's “Down At The Honky Shack”, Debbie's guitar mimics the sax lines. Her playing here recalls Freddie King. This could serve as a perfect 'play the star onstage' intro.
She does up the Texas swing of Gatemouth Brown's “Okie Dokie Stomp” with a spritely romp including Gate's signature quick slides up and down the neck. Drummer Don Castagnio's tom-tom work shines here. “Percolatin'” features a twangy tone morphing into a Duane Eddy-like groove. Another funk groove is brought out in “So What”. Her soul rhythm chording gives the song a good foundation for her to lay down her stinging riffs.
“Astras De Tus Ojas” is done up in a jazzy tone. A homage to Wes Montgomery. This song is nicely accented by underpinnings of congas and organ flourishes. The title track's lilting main theme proceeds to take soaring riffs out over the rolling hills.
Earl Hooker's “I Wonder Why” , a slow percolating blues, is backed by Casandra Faulconer's rock solid bass. Here as on some other tracks producer Paul Opalach provides organ washes to flash out the sound. On”If You Love Me Like You Say” the vocal line is taken by wah wah guitar. This number was a staple of her late former boss Albert Collins. Some Hendrix influenced riffing sneaks in about midway through.
Our journey ends at the beach by way of a an original surf instrumental replete with the requisite cheesy organ and tremelo guitar. Secret Agent Man- like guitar enters the mix.
The end result here is a satisfying plate of blues served up with accents of jazz, funk and surf sounds. Much of it is get up outta yer' seat and stomp the floor stuff. Along with a few contemplative moments to cool our collective heels. Debbie has managed to use her vast stockpile of guitar styles to create a disc that I'll and certainly you will go back to time and time again. And undoubtedly find a different nuance at every listening.
All of this couldn't of been achieved without the production values of Opalach and the unobtrusive support of Castagnio and Faulconer. The sturdy bass and drum fills gave Debbie legs to stand on as she took her forays down the guitar trail. Maybe this successful outing will give others the incentive to pursue more avenues of the instrumental path. Or per chance Ms. Davies will grace us with another audience with the queen. Whatever the case, performances like this only keep the life blood flowing in our cherished blues.Reviewer Greg 'Bluesdog' Szalony is from the New Jersey Delta. He is proprietor of Bluesdog's Doghouse at http://bluesdog61.multiply.com.