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Sue Foley is one of the best blues guitarists around, male or female. While her guitar work is more versatile than ever, her songwriting skills have also matured. The knock against the Canadian artist is that she can't sing. To these ears, however, Foley's vocals have improved greatly from album to album, to the point where her singing today is far better than adequate.
Love Comin' Down finds the diminutive Foley returning to the blues after a one-album foray into roots rock and Dylanesque folk. Though I liked her last release Ten Days in November a lot more than most critics, it's good to see Foley returning to the blues fold.
The impetus for this new one is Foley's recent divorce. Rather than lament a relationship gone sour, Foley offers a tough-minded assertion of her independence with some fine original tunes. "Two Trains" has a rootsy Texas feel (Foley recently relocated from Austin to her native Ottawa), while the title track compares the loss of love to a fading sunset. "Let My Tears Fall Down" shows a Bessie Smith influence, while "Let Me Drive" is a cool boogie tune with a John Lee Hooker vibe. A slow, smoldering version of Willie Dixon's "Same Thing" lends a new perspective to a very sexy tune.
Foley's songwriting skills are best represented on the tune "Empty Cup," a poetic country-blues number featuring Lucinda Williams on backup vocals. The lyrics sound like something folk-rocker Williams might have conjured: "Feelin' dry like an empty cup/Lookin' for something to fill me up/Wanderin' lost like a desert wind/Waiting for love to come around again."
Acoustic guitar plays a more prominent role in Foley's recent music, and nowhere is her musicianship better represented than on the great flamenco-blues amalgam "Mediterranean Breakfast, the CD's instrumental highlight. Faster tunes "You're Barking Up the Wrong Tree" and "Oh Baby (We Got a Good Thing Goin')" will please any fan of electric blues guitar.
Now 32 years old, Sue Foley has really come into her own. This is another fine release from one of the blues' leading female artists.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.