Monday, April 11, 2022

Hurricane Ruth: “Live At 3rd And Lindsley” (2022) CD Review

Hurricane Ruth has a voice that seems born of the blues, yet destined to rock. A raw, powerful force ready and eager to tear apart whatever might stand in her way. This is a voice that bares all with each syllable, even in a studio setting. So what must this performer be like in concert? We now get a good taste of that with her new album, Live At 3rd And Lindsley. This disc contains seventy-six minutes of great music, recorded at that famous venue in Nashville. Backing the vocalist are Tom Hambridge on drums, Scott Holt on guitar, Nick Nguyen on guitar, Calvin Johnson on bass, and Lewis Stephens on keys, along with a special guest on two tracks.

This live album kicks off with “Roll Little Sister,” and immediately we can sense the room rocking. This is a song that Hurricane Ruth included on The Power Of The Blues…Feels Like A Hurricane. “But there’s a change in the weather/It won’t be long/Look out now, ‘cause here she comes.” Yeah, those lyrics are one part of why this song is such a good choice to get things moving. Look out, here comes Hurricane Ruth. “I’m a hard rockin’ woman/I want the whole world to know,” she sings in “Hard Rockin’ Woman,” and it seems like it would be hard to keep the world from hearing it. The power of this song is immense, because the power of her voice is immense. Even if you managed to lower the volume (which I’m not sure is possible; go ahead and try it), the power would not lessen. As she sings here, “Well, I’ve got something in me/I’ve got to let it out/I ain’t gonna whisper/I wanna scream and shout.” We’re only two songs in, and it seems there has already been enough energy generated to power a month’s worth of parties. Yeah, this music is fun. I dig that work on keys. Toward the end she sings, “What’s my name?/It’s hurricane.” She then introduces herself at the end of that song, saying “Welcome to the show.”

Then we get “What You Never Had,” a song from her 2020 studio release, Good Life. This tune has a wonderful blues groove, and features a really good guitar lead. “When I think about my life, it ain’t so bad/I just remember what my mama said/ And she said, why worry about what you never had/Why worry about what you never had/‘Cause life’s about living and not what you have.” A good message to keep in mind during these tough days. Yup, this song is full of delicious, positive vibes. That’s followed by another song from Good Life, “Dirty Blues,” to keep things moving. “And she says, hell yeah, baby, that’s my song/Play that kind of music all night long/I want it down and dirty/I want to sing along.” Oh yeah, that is just exactly right for those of us who live for music, who prefer going to concerts over just about anything else. And it’s so easy to immerse ourselves in the band’s energy.

Hurricane Ruth then treats us to a new song, “Faith In Me.” “This thing has never been recorded,” she tells the audience when introducing it. It is a wonderful, slow blues gem featuring some good stuff on both guitar and keys, as well as a sexy vocal performance. This song provides a declaration of love that any of us would succumb to. “I know I treated you bad, baby/But I swear I’ve changed my wicked ways/Actions speak louder than words/I’ve been working my way back to you every day.” This is one of the disc’s highlights, no question about it. “Listen to your heart, babe/Let your heart, let your heart help you see/If you forgive me like you say you do, baby/Won’t you have a little faith in me.” That’s followed by “Slow Burn,” which comes from her Born On The River album. I like how this one takes its time in developing that great groove. And then Hurricane Ruth’s vocals have all the power you could want, building beneath, ready to strike. And suddenly she has you. “Baby, I’ve got all night/I’m a slow, slow burn.” She howls, and later lets loose a scream. She speaks for all of us when she sings, “Music is my religion, my addiction/It gets me off every time.”

Things get mellower and more intimate with her rendition of “Cry Like A Rainy Day,” at least at the beginning. And here she is again asking for forgiveness: “And how many years will it take for you to forgive it all.” This is a wonderful, soulful vocal performance, helping to make this track another of the disc’s highlights. It is also the first of the album’s three covers. It was written by Kenny Greenberg and Greg Barnhill, and has been recorded by several artists, including Etta James. “Cry Like A Rainy Day” is followed by “Barrelhouse Joe’s,” another fun, energetic song, one that describes a great night of music and makes all of life seem like a party. “We’re going to keep on rolling ‘til the break of dawn.” I love that work on keys.

Before they play “As The Years Go Passing By,” we hear the question, “Are you ready for the blues?” Odd thing to ask this far into things, but still the answer is a resounding YES. This song features special guest Jimmy Hall on both vocals and harmonica, and he and Hurricane Ruth sound great together. Hurricane Ruth tears into it, and everything is working so well. This is another of the disc’s best tracks, and you can hear the crowd respond. They are quite aware of how good things are. Jimmy Hall mentions the name of the venue in their vocal riffing toward the end of the track. This song was written by Peppermint Harris. The fantastic grooves continue with “Make Love To Me.” Jimmy Hall again is on harmonica, delivering some really good stuff, along with that great heavy guitar at the beginning. And the first line is a strong one: “We don’t have a forever, baby.” This track also features a fun lead on keys, and some stellar, wild work on guitar. Toward the end Hurricane Ruth sings, “Let’s get this house rocking, make them walls shake/Come on and take a ride on my slow, slow train/Let me ride you baby like a hurricane.” Oh hell yes! This tune rocks.

The last of the album’s covers is “I’ve Got To Use My Imagination,” which was written by Gerry Goffin and Barry Goldberg, and was recorded by Gladys Knight And The Pips. As this one begins, Hurricane Ruth’s vocal performance is smoother, but it is not long before she is letting it rip, as that force swells up inside of her and bursts out. “Staring down reality/It don’t do me no good.” That’s followed by “Like Wildfire,” which has a strong, driving beat. “You ain’t gonna cool me/You can’t put out this flame,” she tells us here, and I don’t doubt her for a moment. Then “Far From The Cradle” begins with some really good solo guitar work. And I think we can all appreciate the song’s first lines: “When this world has got you twisted/And you think you want to quit/Just hold onto me tighter/Don’t you lose your grip.” I love that little laugh after the line “I know you want to stay.” This song has a sexy vibe. The album then concludes with “Dance Dance Norma Jean,” a delicious boogie.

CD Track List

  1. Roll Little Sister
  2. Hard Rockin’ Woman
  3. What You Never Had
  4. Dirty Blues
  5. Faith In Me
  6. Slow Burn
  7. Cry Like A Rainy Day
  8. Barrelhouse Joe’s
  9. As The Years Go Passing By
  10. Make Love To Me
  11. I’ve Got To Use My Imagination
  12. Like Wildfire
  13. Far From The Cradle
  14. Dance Dance Norma Jean

Live At 3rd And Lindsley was released on March 18, 2022.

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