May 24, 2024

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CD review: Gráinne Duffy – Dirt Woman Blues – 2023: Video, CD cover

If you long for blues played and sung with the right combination of passion and finesse, you’ve come to the right place. This is Monaghan-woman Grainne Duffy’s fifth album, and it captures the singer-songwriter-guitarist in sparkling form, with work that intertwines her brand of Delta blues with standard guitar-driven rock.

Opener ‘Well Well Well’ is a prime slice of raw blues-rock topped by Duffy’s passionate vocals, and ‘Dirt Woman Blues’ is a slow, smouldering performance tricked out with sinewy guitar lines. ‘Running Back To You’ is a slow, insistent plea to a lover for understanding, allowing Duffy to exercise her impressive vocal dexterity.

‘Hold On To You’ swells with a stateliness, courtesy of some nuanced organ-playing from Elijah Ford, and the loping rhythm of ‘What’s It Gonna Be’ takes the music to a different place. Most intriguing is the adventurous ‘Rise Above’, described as a Celtic tone poem, but with Middle Eastern/Indian tonalities that show how effortlessly Duffy can expand the blues genre.

This album was down in a very quick 4-5 day period. Myself and my husband, follow guitar player and songwriting collaborator, flew to San Diego and worked with an amazing team, Chris Goldsmith (Blind Boys of Alabama, Ben Harper) and Marc Ford (ex guitarist The Black Crowes) on co-production duties, Jimmy Hoyson engineering, Elijah Ford and JJ Johnson (bass and drums – Gary Clarke Jr and Tedeschi Trucks) and Sam Goldsmith, (studio assistant). We pretty much tracked all the songs in 3 days and did a day on the vocals of all 9 tracks and then there was a day of post production. I liked working this way with new people and in a fast style as it felt very much in the moment and I liked that and it felt good for this record. I love the blend of blues, soul and rock that we created and working in California with this team was really special for me. At the moment I am busy doing the promotion and touring for this album. The team was put together by Chris Goldsmith, the Co-producer. We had meetings via WhatsApp and he suggested the team to us and we were more than happy with them all as we are aware of their work collectively with The Black Crowes, Ben Harper, Gary Clarke Jr and Tedeschi Trucks among others. So that was basically how that came about,- an interview with me said Grainne Duffy.

Grainne Duffy may not be a familiar name to fans of Americana music (roots, blues, folk, country, and all that), but it should be. Her fifth album, “Dirt Woman Blues,” should help a bunch. Not just because she traveled from her home in Ireland to Southern California to record it (although I’m sure that made a difference), but because she’s a first-class singer, songwriter, guitarist and storyteller.

She and husband / guitarist Paul Sherry wrote the nine originals here, and then filled out their musical lineup with guitarist Marc Ford, formerly of the Black Crowes, Gary Clark Jr.’s Austin rhythm section, drummer/percussionist JJ Johnson and bass/keyboard player Elijah Ford (Marc’s son), plus Grammy-winning producer Chris Goldsmith, Jimmy Hoyson, Sam Goldsmith, John Ginty and Peter Levin.

Duffy’s vocals on this session flow magically from ethereal to earthy; her musical framework roams freely from lyrical to roadhouse tough. And she makes it all sound easy. Her lyrics have made her a three-time Blues Matters Writers’ Poll winner.

The album opener, “Well Well Well,” rocks easily behind strong vocals that set a thematic and musical tone for what’s to come. “Dirt Woman Blues” follows with a slow, steady, rhythmic groove, and a darker story line: “Heaven and hell can’t help me now from the devil within….”

“What’s Going On” is a bluesy vocal turn toward the joys of love, “Running Back To You” is a soft and lovely R&B-tinged track with a lyrical guitar interlude, “Rise Above” delivers rootsy Celtic rhythms.
On “Sweet Liberation,” Duffy opens with slow southern rock feel and then shifts into a ripping Allman Brothers-flavored climax.

Duffy turns more soulward (if that’s possible in this heartfelt collection) with “Hold On To You,” then turns personally and musically defiant with the hard-rocking “Yes I Am.” The closer is “Killycrum,” a gentle, lyrical, acoustic guitar-led tribute to her home in County Monaghan.

In “Dirt Woman Blues,” Gráinne Duffy has given us a thoughtful, intelligent album filled with her soul-stirring vocals and the soaring music that powers them. Fans of all musical flavors should treat themselves to this excellent album and Duffy’s engaging talents.

Add Duffy’s impassioned vocals and you have a delicious gumbo stew, full of raw blues nourishment with added vitamins. We recommend that you definitely buy this CD and enjoy it according to all the moods of the day.

Buy from here – New CD 2023

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