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Dream Boogie - I'm Ready

Black Market Music

8 tracks/42:21

Over the last few years, we have experienced an explosion in the number of recordings released and a corresponding drop in the overall quality of songwriting. While many musicians write exciting music, they often settle for lyrics that simply fall flat, failing to tell even the simplest story that might engage the listeners. Try to think of a new song that you have heard recently that hit you so strongly that you know people will still be singing it fifty or a hundred years from now.

The opposite problem occurs when a band decides to cover well-known songs that have stood the test of time and been awarded “classic” status. There are, at minimum, several performances of tunes like “Spoonful” or “I'm Ready” that are considered the definitive versions and serve as the reference points for assessing other interpretations. The issue to be dealt with is how to bring a fresh approach to classic songs without sacrificing their power to grab hold of our souls.

Dream Boogie takes on this challenge by including the above tunes and six other blues standards on this release. The group came together last year in Melbourne, Australia. Rebecca Davey handles the lead vocals. Maurico Ochoa, an honors graduate of the Berklee College of Music, plays all of the guitar parts. Connor O'Neil on bass and Robert B. Dillon on drums form the solid rhythm section.

Opening with “Spoonful”, Davey immediately gives listeners a taste of her commanding presence, her muscular voice generating plenty of heat over Ochoa's fluid guitar work. Their rendition of “Goin' Down” builds to the point where Davey unleashes a full-throated roar only to have the track quickly fade out to a premature ending. Buddy Guy's “A Girl of Many Words” gets a brief, funky treatment. The tune was originally done from a man's perspective but Ana Popovic changed things around on her Hush album. Davey is in a sassy mode on “I'm Ready”, delivering one of her strongest vocals

On the rest of the material, Dream Boogie attempts to put their unique stamp on the songs by the use of spoken word passages . Davey describes her attempt to handle the aftermath of a failed relationship at the start of the medley of ”My Baby Caught the Train/Who's Been Talkin'”. Later, she describes how the plan backfires in telling detail. There is an echo effect on her voice during the song that seems out of place, a point confirmed on the last verse when the echo disappears and the full weight of her voice drives the song home. Most of the seven minutes of “Crossroads” finds Davey relating the Robert Johnson story and later explaining its moral relevance to life. The intro to “Someone Else is Steppin' In” relates the tale of another cheating man - complete with tears, chocolate slices and Sex in the City reruns. Davy rebounds from the heartbreak and finds a new lover, singing the song to her old-time used-to-be with plenty of conviction. Her demure vocal and Ochoa's string-bending on “Little by Little” are interrupted by several spoken sections that dissipate the built-up energy.

The band has several strengths. Davey is a dynamic performer and Ochoa proves to be a tasteful guitarist. But they created a serious challenge for themselves by playing well-known tunes. To the band's credit, they do offer distinctive presentations. Your enjoyment of this disc will revolve around your tolerance level for the spoken passages.

Reviewer Mark Thompson is president of the Crossroads Blues Society in Rockford. IL. He has been listening to music of all kinds for fifty years. The first concert he attended was in Chicago with The Mothers of Invention and Cream. Life has never been the same.

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