Rae Gordon Band "Blue Lemonade"

I was recently talking with Cherie Robbins (from
Cherie's Blues Highway Blog) about my reviewing Rae Gordon Band's CD, "Blue Lemonade," and she was happy that I was covering it, and Rae, and wanted to make sure I mentioned what a sweet soul Rae is -- and I must admit, in my communications with Rae I have found her to be humble and appreciative of compliments on her craft. (In a message before writing this, I told Rae that her CD rocks, and her response? "oh my gawd, thank you! It's my first ever.....")

When I first plugged the CD in, I had no clue what to expect, other than this was a lady from Oregon, my first non-WA review (!), and she was blues. The first song, "Find Me When the Sun Goes Down," has this cool, jazzy feel, with its skip beat and horns, and accents from a Hammond B3 organ -- I hear a bass plugging along with the drums, but no hint of guitar. So, I'm thinking, cool, more of a jazz-blues CD, great! Rae's voice flowing over the rhythm, telling some would-be lover to find her later, 'cause she be "the best one around," just added to the smooooothness of this track. So, the rest of the CD is like this, right?

Ha. Because of the mastering, there was very little breathing space between songs before I heard the distorted buzz of a guitar. "That's Why" turns up the notch and lets me know that Rae & Co. are here to play, not just keep things jazzy. This one, on a blues scale, is a rocker, a head shaker, one that lets Rae's voice bring lots of grit while the guitar opens up and says, "I'm here!" With references to Heaven's gate, St. Peter, the devil saying "yes" and the preacher saying "no" -- you'd think this was a gospel tune, but I think there's more to it than that. ;)

I feel some songs belong in some forgotten era of music -- and by this, I don't mean it in a bad way. Songs like "Oh Honey Please" and "Make A Friend" feel like cherished, loved songs from back in the day, they're comfortable, warm, and somehow sound familiar, without being rips or take-offs from other songs. Knowhatimean?

Rae doesn't play the jilted lover much on this disc, but rather she turns the situation around and finds ways to express
the joy of moving on. "Thank You" actually tells the guy, "thank you for treating me so bad" -- because now she knows what she wants and found someone that treats her right, whereas "Blue Lemonade" talks of how she wants to take all the lemons some guy has tossed her way and make sweet lemonade with a twist of his game -- while she chops down hit stick...yikes! "Swing Me" puts a guy in his place -- he thinks he can just use her, rotate her among other lovers, and expect her to be okay with that...nope! "Happy Home" does soften things, knowing that deep down, no matter where we look or who we hook up with, in the end we just want to find someone and some place to call home.

"Misery Blues" is a fun one, not in a rocker kind of way, but... -- sometimes I can hear a smile in Rae's voice, even when she's talking about life, and for the life of me, I cannot feel miserable while listening to this.

I know we're talking about a blues album, but (to me) "Tear It Up, Burn It Down" is a real...barn-burner!
It's like a little Bonny Raitt mixed with some Miranda Lambert and a whole lotta attitude. A crowd pleaser, for sure.

The disc closes with the haunting "Pools of Pain," with its somber tone, guitar chiming from a distance and a steady thump on the 4-count like a tribal drum... "I don't know where I'm going, I know where I've been. I've seen my share of sorrows...and a whole lot of sin." That line just resonates throughout, lingering long after the song is over. I was going to start the review off with that line, but chose to close with it.
(Rae just told me the drum was...get this...a Top Ramen box! I never would have guessed!)

Rae & Co. are on a journey, and sure there have been times where things haven't been rosy, but things do look up -- especially since she informed me she's getting ready to record her next one! Definitely looking forward to that one.


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    TSSutherland is a lover of music that thumps, bumps, rocks & wails! An avid believer in supporting local arts, this page will feature reviews of NW Blues, Rock & Funk.


    January 2014