Album Review of Gráinne Duffy: Voodoo Blues
Voodoo Blues is a collection gritty, energetic, good-time blues and blues-based rock ‘n roll that’ll grab you by the throat at song number one and won’t let go. Gráinne Duffy‘s voice reminds me a lot of blues-based hard rocker Joanna Dean, whose solo release Misbehavin’ – with its moderate hit “Kiss This” – and subsequent album Code of Honor with her band Bad Romance back in the late ’80s and early ’90s were a couple of my favorite hard rock albums during tail end of the so-called “hair metal” melodic hard rock era. Code of Honor, in particular, leaned heavily toward the “blues” end of blues-based hard rock. Voodoo Blues is similarly positioned, though it may be just on the blues side of that line, at the rock end of hard rockin’ blues. Anyway, for me, “reminds me of Joanna Dean” is the equivalent of “must own this disc,” but I’ll dig into Voodoo Blues with a bit more detail.
The album kicks off with “Voodoo Blues,” an expansive, hot, hot desert-flavored opening that turns into a jangly rockin’ blues number, with wailing blues-rock guitar accompanying Gráinne’s rockin’, growlin’, oh-so-tuneful bluesy rock vocal howl. “Mercy,” next, accompanies that howl, guitar, and beat with some filthy, back alley blues-joint organ in ample support.
Pardon me, but doesn’t the opening guitar-driven rhythm of “Blue Skies” doesn’t have a hint of a country flavor to it? Or perhaps that line’s just been blurred by Shania Twain, who could also sing the hell out of this song with its big vocals and sass. Regardless of the comparison, Gráinne delivers it with a little more gravelly growl. Then, on “Shine It On Me,” Gráinne adds a little bit of a funky rhythm to the blues, as both guitar and organ drive this big-stage number.
Things slow down with “Don’t You Cry For Me,” an old-school, screaming, swaying, lay-it-out-there, preach-the-blues number. “Roll It” brings back the energy before “Wreck It” cranks it up to a full-on wail again; it’s a song with kind of a Fabulous Thunderbirds tempo, a hint of a wry Sheryl Crow-like hip coolness in the vocal delivery, and a George Thorogood-like pace on the guitar line.
Gráinne mellows things out with the smoother “No Matter What I Do,” a song whose tempo allows you to lean back, close your eyes, and sway. Kumbaya, rockin’ blues ballad style.
“Tick Tock,” the penultimate track, is a grimier number sung with serious attitude. And the disc closes with “Hard Rain,” a thumping, plodding, persistent, uncompromising, rockin’ blues tour de force that, I’m sure, fills the room with sound when performed live. And just like that, crash, the album’s over.
Speaking of catching a live show – and I’m just imagining here – if you’re around Boston, you’d hope to hear her in a premier blues listening room like 9 Wallis – a spot I love… and would love a lot more if it weren’t on the exact opposite side of the city from me. Of course, with her big sound and even bigger talent, she could just as easily be playing a large theater.
Anyway, I’ve been looking forward to sharing Gráinne Duffy’s music with you for a few months now. She’s one of those singers you know is special within the first five seconds. So, you know, give her five seconds to prove me right.
When she performs live, you’ll be able to find Gráinne’s performances listed on the “Events” tab of her Facebook page.