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Music Review: Cee Cee James – Blood Red Blues

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Cee Cee James has been belting out the blues for over 20 years. Her constant touring and two CD releases (plus a live CD) have gained her a solid fan base among blues aficionados. She returns in 2012 with her latest and third studio album, Blood Red Blues, which may help her reach a wider audience.

James has gathered a stellar group of musicians to back her. The foremost is her husband, Rob “Slideboy” Andrews, who co-wrote the songs, and provided the rhythm and lead guitar work. His nickname is apt as he is one of the better practitioners of the slide guitar technique working today. Also on hand are bassist Dan Mohler and drummer Chris Leighton, in addition to keyboardist Susan Julian and guitarist Rocky Athas, who contribute to a number of tracks. Then there is legendary Grammy-winning blues producer and engineer Jim Gaines, who fills those positions on the release.

James’ voice is very similar in tone, inflection, and style to the late Janis Joplin. While she may be more of a traditional blue artist than Joplin, when one listens to the music contained on this album, the comparisons are very apparent. If you appreciate Joplin, you will like this album.

From the opening title track with James’ gritty vocals exploding above the slide guitar runs of Andrews, it is a journey through the blues. The lyrics are painful, inspirational, and powerful as she takes the listener on a journey through her life story. Songs of redemption, life on the road, struggles, sins, and pain are brought to life through her emotional vocals and energy.

She is one of those rare singers who seems to ring every ounce of sweat from her body and soul and communicates that fact to her audience.

Her personal style channels some of the early Delta female blues artists while her sound has modernized that approach. It is classic blues lyrics meeting present day electric blues accompaniment.

Blood Red Blues is a blues adventure work to pursue. If you like the electric blues at its most basic, then Cee Cee James is an artist for you.

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