Virtuoso guitar work, excellent singing, very spirited.
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Every song on this album is a winner. Traditional blues doesn't get any better than this. It is well performed, well recorded, a real gem."
Blues that's solid as a Block, Rory Block that is
Daniel J. Hamlow | Narita, Japan | 10/23/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Rory Block grew up during the blues revival in the 1960's, when the works of artists such as Skip James, Mississippi John Hurt, and Robert Johnson were being rediscovered. She was influenced by the Delta sound and style of singing and High-Heeled Blues released in 1981, exemplifies her as a supreme interpreter of those classics, as well as her own compositions, solidly strumming her guitar with great aplomb.Block covers no less than three Robert Johnson songs. She does some intense strumming on his "Walkin' Blues" reflecting the travelling those bluesman had to do back then. Upon hearing "I've been mistreated and I don't mind if I die," I sigh and think, that's the blues right there."Travelin' Blues" is the next one covered, about a woman who tells the guy who got her pregnant that her traveling days are over and to take her in."Got To Have You Be My Man" was written by her, and she showcases her pleasant soaring higher yodelling voice here. She assertively says, "I want you to be my man."Her cover of Skip James' immortal "Devil Got My Woman" "Man" here, actually, replicates the wailing despair, in a higher register when she sings "I'd rather be the devil than be a woman to that man." and "nothing but the devil could change my baby's mind."I'm taken back to the 1930's when I hear the piano blues of "Down In The Dumps." She sings "I done cried so much, look like I got the mumps/I can't keep from worrying cause I'm down in the dumps." And she tells the landlord to leave her alone and contemplates jumping into the river because her husband's missing. What emotion she imparts when she sings, "When I woke up, my pillow was wet with tears."She covers the traditional "The Water Is Wide", which has that barroom piano accompanying her guitar. Her version is good, but Karla Bonoff and Charlotte Church did this better."Since You've Been Gone" is her own tune, and the woman in the song decides to sing her own tune, as she tells her man, who's returned. Then she does an admirably version of "Crossroad Blues" with some intricate guitar work throughout.The Block-penned "Achin' Heart" has a touch of folk in it, as she sings of the bad luck she has as well her feelings of loneliness. The thing that really touched me was this one: "Well I feel so lonesome, it makes me weep and moan. Lord I can't find me a good man to share my life and home." In my case, substitute woman in that line. You tell'em, Rory."Hilarity Rag" is an instrumental that showcases her guitar playing. Is her playing wonderful or what?"Kind Hearted Man" is another Johnson cover tune, the original being "Kind Hearted Woman BluesE and her guitar thumps and strums its strings off here. The irony of this song is how she says he's kind hearted but he doesn't love her, calls another woman's name, plus he practices evil all the time. Must have been the code for singing about the boss behind his back.The initially acapella "Uncloudy Day" shows her twangy bluesy voice in its various ranges including her yodelling high, before the guitar kicks in during the second half of the song.Block's voice is wonderful and perfectly realizes the Delta singing style. If we add some scratches and hisses to the songs here, they'd be mistaken for old classics. I kick myself for knowing about her performance at the Telluride Festival too late last month. John Sebastian of the Lovin' Spoonful not only co-produced this album but does harmonica and baritone electric guitar here. A nice introduction to Block's music."