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Samantha Fish, Cassie Taylor, Dani Wilde - Girls With Guitars

Ruf Records

12 tracks; 44.42 minutes

For several years now Ruf Records in Germany has arranged a tour entitled “Blues Caravan”, usually comprising three different artists playing together and separately in concert. There are dates through the year encompassing much of Europe and selected festivals in the States – this year the Caravan will be on the Pacific LRBC in October. Dani Wilde is a veteran of this format having previously toured with Candye Kane and Deborah Coleman a few years ago, but the other two are new to the Caravan format: Cassie Taylor is the daughter of Otis and has played bass and sung with her father for some time; Samantha Fish is a guitarist from Kansas City who at age 21 is making her way in the business, so this is an excellent opportunity for her.

Produced by Mike Zito (who adds guitar to two tracks), the CD contains three originals from each girl, one collaboration between the three and two covers. Cassie plays bass throughout and Samantha and Dani share rhythm and lead duties. All three girls sing, tending to lead on their own compositions. The only other player is drummer Jamie Little who is English and the current drummer for both Sherman Robertson and Hamilton Loomis when they tour in Europe.

The covers bookend the CD which opens with the girls’ take on the Stones’ “Bitch”. Each girl takes a verse, so we get an early intro to their voices. Dani has a strong, soulful voice, Cassie has a lighter voice and Samantha is perhaps in the middle. On the choruses their three voices blend excellently. Lead guitar here is Dani with a short solo. “Satisfy My Soul” is Cassie’s song, a catchy tune that moves along well, her quieter voice producing a hypnotic effect on a song propelled by Samantha’s rhythm and a wah-wah solo from Dani. This is followed by Dani’s more soulful “Mr Loving Man”, the two guitars reminding us of Memphis. Samantha’s “We Ain’t Gonna Get Out Alive” sees her taking lead guitar and vocals, with Mike Zito on eerie slide, a suitable tone for a song that sees doom approaching - “I know this love gonna drive me six feet in the ground”. Dani is absent from this track, but is found all on her own on “Reason To Stay”, accompanying herself on dobro on a song that is almost a prayer with the singer asking for somebody to love.

Next up is the collaboration between all three girls, “Get Back”. As on “Bitch” the girls take a verse in turn, in this case Samantha, Cassie, Dani. The song is a mid-paced rocker, with screaming guitar from Mike Zito the only instrumentation apart from the rhythm section as both Samantha and Dani concentrate on vocals here. “Come On Home” is a trio effort with Samantha singing soulfully and playing guitar on her own composition, some nice slide playing underpinning a slow number with a bit of a country blues feel to it. “Leaving Chicago” is Cassie’s song and is also a trio effort with Samantha again using slide. The song starts slowly with a wistful vocal about being sent away (“You said I was sexy but you couldn’t look me in the eye”) and has a sad quality to it which is emphasised by the slide guitar. “Wait A Minute” is Samantha’s third feature, with both the other girls on backing vocals, a catchy rhumba with a nice solo.

“Move On” is Cassie’s third tune, more of a rocker this time, with emphatic drums and a strong guitar riff and solo from Samantha. Dani’s final song is “Are You Ready?” on which she sings and plays lead against Samantha’s slide, all three girls on backing vocals. I liked both these songs which are immediately catchy and radio friendly (if only such music made it on to radio anymore!). The album closes with the second cover, Paul Pena’s “Jet Airliner”, a song made famous by Steve Miller. The girls’ version does not add a lot to the better known version, but it is such a good song you just have to like it! Samantha handles guitar duties here and all three again trade vocals.

I found this CD to be one that grows on you and I would expect the live shows to be very enjoyable. Look out for the Blues Caravan Tour when it comes your way.

Review John Mitchell is a blues enthusiast based in the UK. He also travels to the States most years to see live blues music. He was recently on the January 2011 Legendary Blues Cruise.

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