Out There

I Got That Feeling
Debbie Davies
Blind Pig Records

Davies' three-year stint playing guitar for Albert Collins won her blues credibility her otherwise thin gifts would not have gained her. She's a feisty instrumentalist, but her weak voice and bland material bar her from any measure of greatness. Here she duets on the title cut (a soul strut originally by Collins) with the chronically overrated Coco Montoya, ex-paramour of Davies and possessor of a toneless caw of a voice that does nothing to clear this CD's debits in the vocal column. Davies' list of societal woes that prompt her to go "Howling At The Moon" will be lauded by blues cheerleaders as "topical," but it's not even a song, it's an inventory. The other tunes are similarly pennyweight--blues-based, but barely. This is Davies' third, and most flawed, album.

Ain't Gonna Worry
Johnny "Yard Dog" Jones
Earwig Records

Yard Dog Jones is a Detroit singer/harmonicist who once lived in Chicago and returned there to cut this disc of no-bull blues and streetwise soul. Jones was plainly influenced by soul-blues slickster Johnnie Taylor, and such material is usually best addressed by bands larger than this quintet, but they tear into each cut with the passion of a pit bull on a postman's pants. Windy City stalwart Detroit Junior--of exploding glissandi and fidgety, '50s-style leads--plays piano, while a relative youngblood, Johnny B. Moore, plays guitar; his almost neurotically busy playing helps fill out the quintet, approaching a more soulful, big-band sound. Jones blows good harp and has a properly seasoned bark of a voice. Blues fans left cold by the new crop of upcomers should try this for a hit of the hard stuff.

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Leaving Here Walking
Jimmy Burns
Delmark Records

Chicago singer/guitarist Burns is retired from a long-term day job to try for the Big Time after decades of honing his skill in neighborhood clubs. Some of the cuts are typical (but appealing) Chicago fare like "Whiskey Headed Woman," replete with honking harp. "Better Know What You're Doing" is a hellbent, West Side-style boogie with a rock 'n' roll bridge and a hot lead break. Burns is a skilled guitarist, with an undistorted, piquant style that's rather a mix of Cornell Dupree and fellow Chicagoan Lacy Gibson. "One Room Country Shack" is almost as lowdown as the original, and the countrified "Rollin' and Tumblin'" is surprising--given the urban spin on everything else here--but well done. Good musicianship and that pervasive feel of the real make Burns' debut quite recommendable.

--Tim Schuller

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