Gonna Get Ya
Independent release, 2005
REVIEW BY: Bruce Rusk
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 02/03/2006
DaBluz Crew is a five-piece outfit hailing from Northern California. This quintet plays pretty standard blues with a healthy dose of R&B. It's hard to fault their enthusiasm, but the music is pretty generic middle-of-road stuff. I guess I like my blues with a lot more grit and fire to it.
Singer Susan Dunlop has a clear, strong voice but her delivery does not stand out as exceptional to me. The musicians are good, they have talent, but the arrangements are, well, ordinary. I suppose one of the reasons this disc didn't grab me is that it reminds me of the general homogenization of the blues into "contemporary blues" that has happened over the past decade. In the 60s and 70s, many artists were influenced by the blues and maintained the essence of the roots of a truly American musical style, adopting its simple framework as a foundation for improvisation and experimentation.
One of the hallmarks of powerful blues is the instrumental prowess of the musicians, typically the role of the guitar player. In the case of DaBluz, their songs use the classic three-chord blues progressions but they don't really build anything around it. There is a distinct lack of powerful solos or improvisation.
DaBluz sounds their best when the slow it down a bit. The down-tempo "Twilight Bluz" is an excellent smoky instrumental featuring some beautiful sax by Paul Towne. "Missing My Baby" is a sultry torch song and Susan delivers the melancholy vocal nicely. Guitarist Frank Carvalho takes over vocals on "Roadhouse," and adds a nice Texas shuffle to the song, but the lyrics offer nothing at all to make this track work, a situation that is common throughout the 10 songs. The lack of outstanding lyrics is another reason this CD didn't appeal much to me. For blues, the songs are mostly too upbeat, and frankly don't have much depth to them.
The end result is a little too light and breezy for me to embrace among the type of blues that I personally prefer. The recording is well done, nice and clean, and each member is perfectly mixed. I just want a little more power and grit in a blues recording for it to bear repeated listening.