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Meena - Try Me

Ruf Records

12 songs; 57:33 minutes

Styles: Modern Electric Blues and Blues Rock

Every blues artist, especially one presenting his or her debut album, issues a bold challenge to listeners: “Try Me.” In 2010, Austrian-born Meena Cryle did just that. Her English may not be flawless, but her sultry, soul-baring singing is on the way there. Backing her up are renowned guest musicians like Joanne Shaw Taylor, Eric Sardinas, and Coco Montoya. Her regular crew are bassist Dave Smith, drummer Steve Potts, keyboardist Rick Steff, and guitarist Chris Fillmore. Produced by Jim Gaines and recorded in Tennessee, “Try Me” contains nine original numbers and three covers (the title track, “I’d Rather Go Blind,” and “Just As I Am). Here are her three clearest compositions, both vocally and instrumentally:

Track 01: “Try Me”--Even though this album’s opener is a cover of a James Brown song, it showcases Meena’s vocals like no other selection. They’re soft, sweet, and seductive, setting a perfect romantic mood. This is one of four songs featuring guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor (the other three are “Nothing Left”, “I’m Leaving You” and Zydeco-influenced “Let Your Sweet Love Shine On Me”).

Track 04: “Put Your Hands Out Of My Pocket”--Sometimes when people fall in love, they go FOR broke, but they’re not supposed to GO broke! Such is Meena’s lament on this slow-blues rendition. “Put your hands out of my pocket, baby. They’re already empty, honey; don’t you see? And the tears gonna fall….” She cries, “I’ve walked a thousand miles, and I’ve been alone,” but so far, her lover has given her nothing for her efforts. This is one for the dance floor, despite its despairing tone, featuring Fillmore’s fiery guitar work.

Track 05: “Sorry”--This country-infused ballad may not be the purest of blues songs, but its sentiments are sincere: “Sorry for leaving you sad and blue. Sorry for never telling how much I love you. Sorry for calling you a fool instead; sorry for hurting you so bad. Sorry is all I can say, and all I can be.” It’s the second part of that final phrase that will strike listeners like an arrow to the heart. Meena performs some glowing harmonies with Vickie Atkins, Sandy Carroll (Mrs. Jim Gaines), and Amyee Bragg on background vocals.

Meena’s gone through several musical-identity changes: “Somebody tried to make me a pop singer, a rock queen, even a Tina Turner or a Janis Joplin double. To no avail. It would have been easier to tame my wild curls.” She credits Thomas Ruf for “taking me under his wings. Me, a rough singer, getting into the blues!” The blues world is all the better for this songstress’ having found her true calling. For more of Meena’s magic, check out “Feel Me”, released this past March!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 32 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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