Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Album Review: Deanna Bogart 11th Hour
Artist: Deanna Bogart
Title: 11th Hour
Writer: Rick Galusha
The evolution of technology has profoundly impacted music listening habits. Due to the demise of the grip by the music industry’s major label system, music fans are now being bombarded with more CDs than ever before. Like the average consumer in a wine store, many of us are standing in front of a massive selection of choices, mouth agape, (and possibly drooling), trying to make “heads or tails” out of an oceans of music in front of us. Therein lies much of the popularity of the Blues; like a McDonald’s hamburger, listeners have a pretty good idea what they’re going to hear, usually. As most blues fans graduate from their old collection of Rolling Stones or Led Zeppelin records, even the traditionally rather narrow genre of the blues is exploding to encompass more and more influences. To the chagrin of traditionalists…it is what it is (and like other “music gatekeepers,” snobbery is becoming passé).
Although “blues rock” has been a part of the blues scene since the early 1960’s – more than ever it has become an entrenched category. Today, it seems to me, “pop” blues is coming on strong. Let’s define this a bit; pop music is by definition popular. It also tends to be melodic, well arranged and contains a memorable tune. Some of the progenitors of this include Jason Ricci, David Grissom, Bob Malone and this latest album by Deanna Bogart.
The latest album by Deanna Bogart, 11th Hour, pushes the envelope of what many would consider to be, “the blues.” However this is an artist that any music fan can easily embrace because the music defies hewn category. Bogart’s songs are intelligent, her lyrics are endearing and her arrangements far surpass the vast minions of faceless sound-alike zombies that permeate the landscape. Yes, it is that good.
Radio programmers will want to pay close attention to the album’s 3rd track, “Love and Attention.” While this stunning, show stopping duet with Tommy Castro is certainly not going to draw much reward from the blues award system, this is simply one of the finest radio friendly pop songs since the term, ‘Philadelphia Soul’ was coined in the 1970’s. The track is immediately credible with Bogart’s songwriting and arrangement on the ballad well beyond exceptional. Yes, it is that good.
On ‘11th Hour’ Bogart does two covers, ‘Since We’ve Ended as Lovers,’ written by Stevie Wonder but given to Jeff Beck as a reputed payoff for reneging on the promised track, ‘Superstition.’ John Hiatt’s, ‘Have a Little Faith’ is also given Bogart’s careful touch.
Admittedly, while Deanna Bogart is an extraordinary musician, the presence of a gifted band is apparent. On the albums opening track, ‘Sweet Pea’ guitarist Dan Leonard slices in chords while the band swings in a groove reminiscent of “Aja” period Steely Dan. The band’s bassist Scott Ambush and drummer Mike Aubin carefully under-play while giving the songs a solid base from which to grow. On the track, ‘Unkl Funkl’ the band ventures into a tasty funk/ jazz piece that shows just how talented this band really is – with Ambush’s rapid fire fingers giving the listeners that much loved guitar attack while Leonard fires back with a highly textured response. More traditionally orientate blues show will want to focus on the smoky late-night sultry notions of the album’s closing track, “Eleventh Hour Blues.”
So no, purist blues fans are probably not going to fawn over Deanna Bogart’s latest collection of songs. Everyone else will easily find this an album that will bear up to repeat listening for years to come. Yes, it really is that good.