I’ve been rubbed with “the luck of the Irish” in my latest write-up for Blues Rock Review. For a country that has spawned true greats of the genre, including guitar virtuosos Mr. Gallagher and Mr. Moore, a name you might not be as familiar with is Gráinne Duffy. Listening to her fifth LP, Dirt Woman Blues, there’s no doubt the blues runs through her veins and underneath her fingernails.
She upsticked her Irish roots for the album’s recording, taking them to the golden hills and coastal peace of Southern California. While she might not carry the “Hollywood” acclaim afforded to her contemporaries (both male and female), this refreshing set of nine originals, co-written with husband and guitarist Paul Sherry, melds together a wonderous potion of Irish and American influences.
Starting out empowered and upbeat with “Well Well Well,” Grainne rocks in fine fettle over some vintage delta slide guitar and a beguiling chorus hook that’s sure to win over live audiences. It’s backed up by the beautiful haunting blues of the title track, with its dark theme (‘Heaven and Hell can’t help me now from the devil within’) and mournful guitar licks contributing to the dramatic drop in mood.
There’s a Celtic tinge to the rootsy beat of “Rise Above” as Duffy showcases her malleable pipes, switching effortlessly from soft, mellow notes to the passionate, soul-stirring hit of the chorus. Co-producer Marc Ford (ex-Black Crowes) must have been set free on “Southern Liberation,” such is its raw and steady Southern rock character that culminates in delirium with a wailing guitar attack.
Another heartbreaker arrives in “Hold Onto You.” Duffy’s soulful voice cuts deep, but the piano playing from Jazz pianist Peter Levin lives longest in this ballad’s memory. The pace and volume pick up again on the pulsating “Yes I Am” that’s musically and personally defiant, and driven by a supercharged performance from JJ Johnson on drums.
Ending with the smoldering and a more than palatable acoustic homage to “Killycrum” (her home in County Monaghan), it shows another side to Duffy’s musical intelligence and versatility.
Once described by American Blues Scene as “a compatriot and spiritual successor to Rory Gallagher,” Duffy is an engaging talent in her own right. Fans of diverse sounds and nuances will enjoy Duffy’s unique, innovative mix of Americana, blues, Celtic, and rock flavors, all without losing her Irish heritage.
The Review: 7.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Well Well Well
– Dirt Woman Blues
– Southern Liberation
The Big Hit
– Dirt Woman Blues