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Album Review

Nearly all of Fiona Boyes' previous reviews have acknowledged that she is an exceptional female blues guitarist, but it's time to lay the gender qualifier to rest: Fiona Boyes is an exceptional blues guitarist, period, as well as an exceptional vocalist and songwriter. Having released several albums in her native Australia, both with her '90s band, the Mojos, and under her own name — most recently a double-live set recorded in Atlanta — Boyes finally tried her luck in the market that has inspired her music. Lucky 13 is her first American release, and it's one wicked slab of blues. Most of Boyes' previous recordings have showcased her acoustic guitar work, but from the first "Smokestack Lightning"-like notes of Lucky 13's opener, "Chicken Wants Corn," Boyes lets it be known that this time she's cranking up the volume. Her electric guitar playing throughout displays both enormous skill and a true empathy with the American roots music she's adapted as her own. With a particular allegiance to the Chicago and New Orleans styles, and nods to Texas, Memphis, and Mississippi, Boyes' picking can be alternately nasty/dirty or smooth/sweet, but regardless of the subgenre, she's consistently economical, tasteful, and imaginative, bringing to each tune crisp, melodic lines and a sense of history; there's no question that Boyes has spent many an hour studying the nuances of the form. That isn't to suggest that this is an exercise in retro, though: Boyes perfectly bridges modernity with classicism. Ten of the album's 13 tracks were composed by the artist, who keeps her sound rooted in the present while aesthetically transporting herself to Chicago's South Side of the mid-20th century to hang with Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and then stepping further back to pay a visit to Memphis Minnie down in Louisiana. For the occasion of her U.S. debut, Boyes took advantage of the local talent, augmenting her core group the Fortune Tellers with Bob Margolin, one of Waters' former guitarists; the Texan pianist Marcia Ball; saxman Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff; and others. But while her guests lend to the effort their considerable experience on the American blues scene, the spotlight is never off of Boyes, who impresses on each track with her virtuosic guitaristry and versatile vocalizing. She likes to keep the listener guessing, too: "Rockabilly on the Radio," a screaming, twanging '50s-style rocker, the tender ballad "Stranger in Your Eyes," and the jump blues "Big Bigger Biggest" may all at first seem anomalies, but they fit neatly into the plan. And although the album's focus is her electric playing, Boyes doesn't neglect her acoustic fingerpicking on Lucky 13. "Pigmeat Lover," one of a handful of tracks spotlighting longtime Asleep at the Wheel pianist Floyd Domino, recalls Maria Muldaur's early solo albums, while the cover of Lillian McMurry's "Red Hot Kisses," a duet with Margolin, is country-blues at its finest. Fiona Boyes may be from Down Under, but with albums this good she'll be on top of all of the blues polls before long.

Biography

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s

Fiona Boyes has made a name for herself on the blues circuit, but when it comes to the specific types of blues that she performs, the Australian singer/guitarist/songwriter has not been the least bit easy to categorize or pigeonhole apart from saying that she is blues-oriented. Listening to Boyes for an hour or even half-an-hour, one is likely to hear a very wide variety of blues or blues-related styles. Texas blues, Chicago blues, Louisiana swamp blues, Memphis blues, and Mississippi Delta blues...
Full bio
Lucky 13, Fiona Boyes
View In iTunes
  • 69,00 kr
  • Genres: Blues, Music, Rock
  • Released: 08 August 2006

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