Love The Game

Debbie Davies

Shanachie Records, 2001

REVIEW BY: Duke Egbert


"The blues ain't nothin' but a good man feelin' bad, thinkin' about the woman he used to have." --Willie Brown, Crossroads

Guess what, Willie, old chap? Sometimes, the blues ain't nothin' but a woman who's plays guitar like an angel and a demon combined.

Say, a woman like Debbie Davies, one of the best blues guitarists you've probably never heard of. On her latest release, L.A. native Davies lays down some of the nicest chops you ever wanted to hear on Love The Gamemy_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 .

Second generation musician Davies (her father, Allan Davies, was a well-known studio musician and arranger who worked with Ray Charles and Frank Sinatra, among others) doesn't have anything to prove, but if you haven't discovered her yet, you should.

Davies is one hell of a guitar player, and it's obvious why. Her playing history includes recordings and gigs with Maggie Mayall, wife of British blues pioneer John Mayall; Coco Montoya; the rhythm section of Double Trouble, the backing band of the late blues legend Stevie Ray Vaughan; and three years as featured guitarist for blues innovator Albert Collins. She owns her guitar playing, shifting from Texas to New Orleans to Memphis to Chicago without a break, and the light touch of producer Duke Robillard means you hear every lick clean as a whistle. Davies' backing musicians are excellent, especially the steady thrum and crash of drummer Don Castagno, who also contributes co-writing credits on several tracks.

The CD's opening track, "Love The Game", sets the tone (and, incidentally, sounds like a lost Fabulous Thunderbirds track), and the CD never lets up. I especially liked "Down In The Trenches", the New Orleans tinged "Was Ya Blue", the funky horns section on "I'm Just Your Fool", the blisteringly smooth licks on "She's Takin' Notes", and the magnificent "Keep Your Sins To Yourself."

If there's a single complaint on this recording, it's that occasionally very occasionally Davies tries a bit hard to be Bonnie Raitt; her voice is a little thin, and on tracks like "Leading Me Home" it runs a bit thin without the guitar to back it up. While according to her official website she was doing more songwriting on this CD, Davies might keep in mind that first and foremost she's a guitarist, and a damned good one at that.

Kudos to Shanachie Records for keeping blues like this alive. If you're a fan of the genre, or even if you just want a great CD to put on and kick back to, Debbie Davies' Love The Gameis a great choice. It comes heartily recommended.

Rating: A-

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© 2001 Duke Egbert and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Shanachie Records, and is used for informational purposes only.