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Dan Treanor & Frankie Lee: African Wind

Jim Santella By

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Traditional blues travels around the world on this session of emotional music. Except for "Lonesome Road," Dan Treanor wrote all the songs; Frankie Lee sings 'em with passion. While the timbres featured by the band's array of percussion instruments have a worldwide association, it's all about the blues at heart.

A Bo Diddley beat carries "Mean Woman Blues" along urban streets, up and down the countryside, and back. Lee sings about the feelings we own up to when we're mistreated. "Kidnapped by the Blues" mourns a broken heart with acoustic instrumental sounds all around. Hand drums, down-home guitar, upright bass, and Treanor's soulful blues harp drive the message home.

Lee's vocal exercises rely on dramatic emotion for their impact. As a result, his performance is uneven, with several interpretations pushing the limits a little too hard. In several spots, his near-shouting becomes a distraction. He's at his best with a hard-driving blues such as "Texas Son" or "Cut With Dynamite," where his forceful vocal energy pushes the music forward. Surrounded by a powerful band and Treanor's soulful harmonica, he makes these tunes sizzle.

"African Wind" explores the sounds of South Africa and neighboring countries. "Love a Woman's Soul" drives with an urban funk groove. "Tell Me Mama," "Lonesome Road," and "Got No Lifeline" represent the roots of Mississippi Delta blues. In all, Treanor and Lee provide an eclectic cross section of the kind of blues heard all over the world.


Track Listing: Missing; Mean Woman Blues; Love a Woman's Soul; Tell Me Mama; African Wind; The Griot Man; Got No Lifeline; Black Hanna; Cut with Dynamite; Kidnapped by the Blues; Texas Son; Who's Playing Who; Lonesome Road; True Love; Cane Flute Soul.

Personnel: Dan Treanor: harmonica, acoustic guitar, dobro, keyboards, bass, diddley bow, ngoni, khalam, cane flute, drum; Frankie Lee: vocals; David Henderson: electric guitar, lap steel guitar, acoustic slide guitar; Gary Flori: drums, congas, djembe, tabla, surdo, shakers; R.D. Jones: electric & upright acoustic bass; Tom Quinn: drums; Sammy Mayfield: guitar, backup vocals; Erica Brown: vocals (13); Peggy Brown, David Booker: backup vocals (13); Tony Arceneaux: flute; Ruben Flores: percussion.

Title: African Wind | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: NorthernBlues Music

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