Cast Your Shadow
Independent release, 2011
REVIEW BY: Jason Warburg
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 12/09/2011
Janis Joplin paved the way 40 years ago by proving that female singers can be a great match for southern-fried blues-rock. Then Bonnie Raitt proved it again, and then Susan Tedeschi after her. Add another name to the list, because Meagan Tubb is everything the role requires: a terrific songwriter with a tremendous voice, charisma to spare and a crack band behind her.
Tubb writes the songs and provides lead vocals and rhythm guitar with backing from her band Shady People: Jason Nunnenkamp (lead guitar), Wilson Carr (bass, backing vocals), John Duran (drums) and Gavin Tabone (keys). Again and again, the quintet locates the perfect groove, whether on assertive Southern rockers like the slide-drenched opener “”Rock & Roll Séance” or sultry blues shouters like “Heartbreak #8.”
The aforementioned opener is a virtual essay-test answer to the question “why be an artist?”: “When you’re doing what you love then love is all you can feel / When I do what I love, don’t you think that I know that it’s real.” Backing this powerhouse lyric, which Tubb delivers with genuine fire and passion, she and Nunnenkamp trade slide guitar solos, pushing one another to the edge and delivering little squeals of feedback. This is the kind of opener that knocks you back on your heels and leaves you ready for anything left to come.
From there the album alternates between sassy, playful blues-rockers (“The Key,” “Heartbreak #8,”) and more gentle, lilting tunes that showcase Tubb’s dynamic vocals (“Giving Tree (Grow My Hope),” “Fly”). Highlights include the driving “Damn Good Man,” whose call-and-answer vocals are made for a live-audience sing-along, and the pleasantly sassy “Damsel In Distress,” where Tubb asks “Why you tryin’ to fix me when I ain’t broken / Do I look like I need some kind of rescuin’?”
“The Hoax” is notable in the way it calls to the fore another influence; the music might be solidly bluesy, but the lyric and vocal here show a definite Sheryl Crow influence with their insouciant wordplay and rather languid delivery. Closer “Sweet Dream” returns to more familiar territory, a soulful tune with nice Hammond organ work that sounds like it would fit snugly into the Bonnie Raitt songbook.
With Cast Your Shadow, Meagan Tubb & Shady People deliver a terrific album full of meaty blues-rock that draws on a wealth of influences while also serving to establish Tubb as a top-notch singer-songwriter. I can’t say it any clearer: this is tasty stuff.