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One of the most important figures on the Texas blues scene and a respected blues historian, Angela Strehli also possesses one of the sweetest voices in contemporary blues music. Like her friend Marcia Ball, Strehli takes her time crafting every recording. Deja Blues is just the third release in 11 years from the classy Austin singer.
Besides her soulful vocals, Miss Angela continues to demonstrate superior songwriting skills. Her compositions first surfaced on her 1993 CD Blonde and Blue, and this new release takes up where that last one left off. Deja Blues showcases Strehli's impassioned vocals on 11 guitar-driven tracks, six written by the artist.
The opening track "Cut You Loose" combines a Booker T and the MGs-style groove with some powerhouse guitar work by Mike Schermer, whose playing invites comparisons to Strehli's former Austin cohort, the late Stevie Ray Vaughn. My favorite here is Strehli's growly take on Jimmy Reed's "Close Together." "A Stand By Your Woman Man" is slow and soulful, while Strehli reunites with Lou Ann Barton and Marcia Ball on a funky number entitled "Still A Fool." "Boogie Like You Wanna" is a bouncy electric rocker that's propelled by Andy Santana's tasty harmonica. Also great is the CD's closer, "Where The Sun Never Goes Down," an old-time acoustic blues tune on which the singer is accompanied by slide guitarist Steve James. Texas roots legend Doug Sahm also guests on two tracks.
Strehli has relocated to San Francisco, but she hasn't severed her ties to the Austin blues community or to Antone's, the famous blues gin joint in Austin. Aside from Etta James' early work, I can't think of another contemporary female blues singer I'd rather listen to than Angela Strehli. Deja Blues shows she still has what it takes.