BLAME SALLY – LIVE AT KVIE STUDIOS, VOL.1
2012 – Ninth Street Opus
This four piece band of women will probably be bracketed with other bands with a similar lineup many of
whom produce huge selling but otherwise over produced twee and souless recordings, with live shows to match. Most, if they contain anything akin to country or folk music, have it sanitized to such a degree that it can only really be called country pop. Blame Sally are the best all female four piece band that I have ever heard on record. I’ve only listened to their last studio recording, 2011s ‘Speeding ticket and a valentine’ and this tremendous live recording, but that is more than enough to know that they are quite special!
Tweeness doesn’t exist in their makeup and they play and sing with as much soul and feeling as just about anyone else I can think of. They are highly skilled musicians when it comes to their instrumental licks and all four are tremendous songwriters and lead vocalists with their harmonies being just about unmatchable! They are all singer songwriters from the San Frncisco area, where each had her own solo career but started playing occasional gigs together, eventually deciding to take the band more seriously.
Blame Sally is made up of Pam Delgado on drums, percussion and vocals, Renée Harcourt
plays guitar, mandolin, banjo and vocals, Jeri Jones on guitar and vocals and Monica Pasqual handles keyboards, accordion and vocals. There is a maturity and confidence in their live sound
that brings emphasis to the fact that they are not just starting out in the music business but are all‘experienced musicians!’ They generate a good deal of power and drive and if this is an example of their live performances this tremendous band don’t take the easy way out. Each has her own style but through sheer musical ability they are able to harness their musical talents and blend them into an at times quite challenging musical sound, but always within the band format. Their talent is quite awe inspiring at times and I just wish I could have been there for the recording of this album! (see end note)
There are thirteen songs on this beautifully recorded live album and whilst most are written by the various band members there are several covers of other peoples work, in particular Fleetwood Mac’s Never Going Back Again. I must admit that my appreciation of Mac ended when they stopped being a blues band and began to epitomize the over produced money generating (and absorbing!) machine that gave them world fame. I don’t like what I have heard of their music but can appreciate the fact that they are arguably one of the best at what they do and that their version of Never going back again was definitive! That is until I heard Blame Sally’s version. There is a soul and character that the original didn’t have and the harmonies just couldn’t match what these four talented women seem to call up as a matter of course. The sparse instrumentation, led by the melodic mandolin tones, is just about perfect for the song, turning it into a beautiful folksy ballad. Not that this tremendous performance is THE highlight of the album, each and every song is a real beauty. The instrumentation is generally fairly sparse, allowing their prowess on individual instruments to shine through and never getting in the way of their tremendous vocal performances, but to me above all
else are those quite extraordinary harmonies. Usually I write at some length about individual songs but in the case of this album that seems unfair on the songs that don’t get a mention, so I’ll just mention a few in passing! (apart from Never going back!) They bring huge drama and power to songs that call for it, such as Her Name Is A Knife, Countdown andThrow Me A Bone and a sublime gentleness to others, in particular the gorgeous Orange whilst there is a mix of all of this on the seven minute spectacular, Hurricane, with it’s lovely atmospheric resonator guitar sound on a hard driving spectacle that includes the late addition of the accordion and with a tremendous bass drum beat all the way through.
Generally I’m not a lover of live albums, with a few exceptions such as ‘Waiting for Columbus’ and ‘Rock of Ages’ and must admit to being amazed that I love this one so much when my expectations were pretty low. The fact is that this is a great album from four hugely talented women who in all probability wouldn’t know how to sound twee!
The album will be released in the UK on 15thOctober 2012 and they are touring the UK and Ireland in October and November. They are playing on a Union Music Store presentation at The Lewes Constitutional Club on Saturday 27th October.