Rory Block – Ain’t Nobody Worried
Stony Plain Records
Rory Block spent the lockdown period playing lots of her favorite songs. She had what she called “Campfire Sessions” where she’d do classics for the fun of playing great music. She also kept with her ongoing project to pay respects to the ‘Power Women of the Blues” and that all gave rise to this album. She does not intend to improve on classic songs, she plays then because she likes them and they pay honor and respect to those who performed them.
This is Block’s Third Volume of Power Women of the Blues and celebrates songs from the 1960’s through the 1980’s. Ten covers and her own most famous cut are offered up here. She handles all the guitar work, vocals, and percussion; this is all her show.
The album begins with the Staple Singers gospel classic “I’ll Take You There.” Stripped down to acoustic guitar, hand claps, vocals and backing vocals, the song resonates the feeling of the original with simplicity and reverence. Next is Rory’s take on Gladys Knight and the Pips and “Midnight Train To Georgia.” The song is also another superb rendition. Mary Wells’ “My Guy” is next, a tune penned by Smokey Robinson. Done in the original key with Block singing her head voice, the cut has a pop feel as the original does and Block delivers another fine cover. Rory next moves to Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” remaining acoustic and delivering another excellent version of a another classic.
Koko Taylor’s “Cry Like A Baby” is next and Rory delivers a gritty and cool performance here. On the outro, Block remembers her conversation with Koko where Taylor called her Little Miss Dynamite, a cool touch. “Love Has No Pride” is the famed Bonnie Raitt song and Block offers up a version with great feeling and emotion. Etta’s “I’d Rather Go Blind” is delivered here in a stripped done acoustic cover that work well. Block then delivers her own top cut, “Lovin’ Whiskey,” a song that she has sung for over three decades and is her most successful tune. One cannot argue that her song belongs with these others and Block delivers the goods once again.
Block moves to Martha Reeves and the Vandellas with “Dancing In The Street.” Here we get another sweet acoustic version that exudes the joy of the original. Carol King’s “You’ve Got A Friend” is next; Block sings with deep feeling and gives the listener goosebumps as she soars through this classic piece. Elizabeth “Libba” Cotten’s “Freight Train” concludes the album. A song misappropriated and often still miscredited, Cotton was a left handed guitar player who played a guitar strung for right handed play, but played it upside down. Her fingers picked the bass lines while she thumbed the melody. A self taught guitar player, she began writing great songs like this in her teens. She was actually Nanny to Pete Seeger and his siblings. Block pays homage to Cotten with beautiful finger picking and an ethereal vocal style.
Block as won seven Blues Music Awards. She is a force to be reckoned with in acoustic blues. Here we have another super set of tunes that will garner all sorts of accolades because the work here deserves it. Kudos to Rory for another exceptional celebration of Women of Song!
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