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Jean Shy & Friends - Blow Top Blues

King Edward Records

15 songs; 69:48 minutes

Styles: Strong female vocals in Blues; Jazzy Blues; Soul-Blues; R&B

One thing is evident about Jean Shy: Last names don't reveal anything! This Chicago born now Germany living sassy songstress is anything but shy, and the blues world is better for it. Jean's style is more smooth and jazz-influenced than that of vocalists like Shemekia Copeland, but that's a good thing. When it comes to the blues, some artists put their all into the vocals. Others concentrate upon the instruments (especially guitar). Jean Shy specializes in mood. “Atmosphere” is her middle name, evoking memories and relaxation with every fine-tuned track. Listeners will appreciate the heartfelt yet subtle effort she infuses into each song.

“Blow Top Blues,” with its five originals and ten covers, is Shy's third CD released in the United States, along with 2005's “One Day” and 2008's “The Blues Got Soul” (for which she received a nomination for 2009 Blues Music Award Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year). As a matter of fact, three songs here (“Wouldn't Wanna Be You,” “Livin’ the Blues,” and “We Like the Same Thang”) had versions also included on 2008’s “The Blues Got Soul.” Most of her albums have been released in Europe, in countries such as Poland, the Netherlands and Germany. Maybe that's why the final song on this album is “Sag Mir Wo Die Blumen Sind” (Pete Seeger’s “Where Have all the Flowers Gone?”). Far from detracting from her repertoire, Shy's European tours and performances have only enhanced it. The proof? Listen in!

Collaborating with such ensembles as the Climax Band Cologne, the Jazz Band Ball Orchestra (JBBO), and the Shy Guys, Jean has selected her finest works for “Blow Top Blues.” Five of the songs are powerful originals: “Party on the Weekend,” “Maze/I Just Wanna Escape,” “The Other Side of Blue,” “Livin' the Blues,” and “We Like the Same Thang.” The last of these is a hilarious highlight, proving that opposites attract: “I say two for tennis. He watches a boxing match—but when it comes to lovin', that man's where I'm at! We like the same thang!” However, for this CD's true masterpiece, back up to the soulfully ominous track number seven, Sharp and Silbar’s “Wouldn't Wanna Be You.” Shy echoes original writers’ warning: “You're not the first he's drawn into his flame. He means to do you wrong and have no shame. I wouldn't want to be you right now.” This song's hook is just as infectious as any of Lady Gaga's stammering starters, and twice as good!

It's a pity the United States blues world hasn't gotten to know Jean Shy much sooner than the early 2000's. Jean Shy is an internationally acclaimed singer, songwriter, music producer, and actress. Europe, share the love—she's a keeper!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 31-year-old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

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