From street musician an ocean away to recording Shout Sister Shout! in the California desert, Ghalia Volt has certainly taken an unconventional path to being an acclaimed recording artist. Born Ghalia Vauthier in Brussels, Belgium as the only musician in her family, 11-year-old Ghalia picked up a guitar and instead of learning a song, attempted creating her own melodies. A punk fan in her teens, she began exploring psychobilly, which led to rockabilly, which led to where all modern musical genealogical explorations do, the blues. Busking on the streets of Brussels, she eventually scrapped enough together to come to the States to pursue her musical discovery.
It will not surprise me if her story someday becomes a Hollywood script. She arrived in America without a driver’s license which brought its own set of unconventional challenges. Ghalia hitchhiked on occasion.
Her journey led her to take up residence in New Orleans, where she hooked up with popular local band, Mamas Boys and released Let the Demons Out in 2017. She would eventually get a license and a van to tour in. Soon it was off to Mississippi, the home of hill country blues. Recording at Zebra Ranch (owned by Luther and Cody Dickinson) with contributors Cody Dickinson, Watermelon Slim and Cedric Burnside, Mississippi Blend released in 2019. Volt’s flame began burning brighter as the album jumped into the top three on Billboard Blues Chart on three separate occasions.
2020’s shutdowns threatened to extinguish that flame, Volt was not about to let that happen. The one-woman band concept took root as she adapted to the pandemic reality. In 2021, One Woman Band released after recording in real time with largely Ghalia’s own instrumentation out of Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee. One Woman Band would break into the top ten on Billboard Blues Chart.
Phasing back to the California desert, more specifically, Joshua Tree and David Catching’s (Queens of the Stone Age) Rancho De La Luna studios (Iggy Pop, Arctic Monkeys, Foo Fighters, and many others) Volt would transform again. No one woman approach this time as drummer Danny Frankel (Lou Reed, Joan Jett, Social Distortion), keyboardist Ben Alleman (Dr. John), and Catching himself (guitar) would lend their talents to Shout Sister Shout!’s production.
The twelve track album releases October 6, just before Halloween with a variety of swampy treats and a trick or two. “Every Cloud” opens with a self-lived cliché ‘every cloud has a silver lining’ from playing through the clouds on the streets of Brussels to Billboard ranking artist. “Can’t Afford To Die”, “No Happy Home”, and Eddie 9V co-written “Hop On A Ride” touch on the trials of a struggling touring artist.
“Insomnia” stands out as my favorite track with bongos lingering like a dripping faucet backdrop to a haunting introspection of sleepless nights ‘night’s done cause you’re dead and gone’. Ghalia shares motivation on “Changes” with ‘thinking about what I’ve been missing’ to ‘changes is what I want what I need’ – ‘if you’re ready gotta get to it if you’re ready we can do it’.
Title track and single/video release “Shout Sister Shout!” is a spooky yet inspirational anthem ‘shout sister shout, fight sister fight’. Another standout track, “Can’t Have It All” provides a hill country jam reality check ‘can’t please the devil and act like an angel’. Speaking of devils, “Hell Is Not Gonna Deal With You” throws us another trick with its slide absent 60’s euro rock meets Ray Manzarek sound.
The album closes with “Po’ Boy John” a fun toe tapping rockabilly tune that will be a treat for Little Richard fans. Ghalia’s story is far from its peak. With Shout Sister Shout!, Ghalia Volt has crafted an edgy potion of rockabilly, hill country blues, with a healthy dash of psychedelia to manifest a great album!
The Review: 8.5/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Shout Sister Shout
– Can’t Have It All
– Po’ Boy John
The Big Hit
– Shout Sister Shout
Buy the album: Amazon