Ruf Records [Release date 11.10.19]
It’s a great idea to release a live album from an extensive tour that can be sold on some of the dates, as it was in the UK in September. This CD/DVD captures the latest Ruf entourage, focusing on three ladies who run the whole gamut of jazz into blues into rock and soul.
Reviewed elsewhere, the gig is always a great showcase for the label and the talent, if sadly not always attracting the biggest crowds. There were only four dates this time in the UK and no London gig.
The opener ‘They Say I’m Different’ with Ina Forsman on lead vocals sets the tone and makes you want to hear more of that sassy, insistent, R&B.
For the rest of the album, each performer gets three songs (five on the DVD) although both Pejak and Venable show their musical flexibility throughout in a band that also includes bassist Roger Inniss and Venable’s regular drummer Elijah Owings on drums.
Katarina Pejak showcases her album ‘Roads That Cross’ although a highlight of her UK set – ‘Chasing Summer’ – is missing. Her jazzy blues is attractive and I could see her commanding the spotlight in many a smart café/club venue and increasing her following.
Ally Venable is the non-European in this outing and her bluesy rock is well displayed on songs like ‘Texas Honey’ and ‘Broken’ (with great organ accompaniment from Pejak) although there’s a more straight-ahead blues approach on ‘Backwater Blues’ (on the DVD).
Ina Forsman is perhaps the most assured performer of the trio and in some respects the “MC”. Naturally, her three songs (five on the DVD) reflect her current album but it’s a shame that the great R&B rap/groove ‘Why You Gotta Be That Way’ is omitted from the CD. Listeners are therefore directed to the DVD.
The three come together at the end for their take on several blues/R&B standards including ‘Love Me Like A Man’ and ‘I’m A Good Woman’ with a particularly passionate vocal from Forsman. These are great ensemble pieces and a fine way to round off the album (and evening).
‘Blues Caravan 2019′ is a great package and a great showcase for three younger female performers (Ally Venable is only 20!) who will no doubt hone and refine their respective offerings over time. ****
Review by David Randall
Gig review (Pershore, 13 September 2019)
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