Although she might be a new face on the national blues scene with this debut for the high-profile Blind Pig label, Robin Rogers is a familiar name to dedicated blues fans. She has gigged steadily in the Southeast since 1990 and has released two previous indie discs, both with her husband/guitarist Tony Rogers. In other words, she's a veteran performer, just without the catalog to prove it. Perhaps that's why she sounds so comfortable on this set dominated by originals. Her husky voice falls between Maria Muldaur's sexy croon and Susan Tedechi's controlled rasp as she commands attention without oversinging or upstaging the songs. The material is a sharp mix of gospel-infused jazzy blues-rocking with an occasional torchy aside. Lyrically, she touches on serious subjects of substance abuse ("Drunkard's Alley") and '60s racial discrimination (the riveting "Color-Blind Angel," which already won second place in the blues category of the 2007 International Songwriters Competition despite not being officially released until this 2008 album), along with more typical lost-love laments. Horns and Rogers' own harmonica perk up the arrangements, which veer slightly to the slicker side. The combination of excellent material and Rogers' compelling voice is what makes this a winner. She sings the lyrics to the midtempo "Dark Love" like she has lived them and infuses every track with genuine passion that never devolves into self-pity. The religious overtones of "Promised Land" tussle with Rogers' sassy delivery in a yin and yang that create tension and relief between the lyrics and the horn-driven verses. She slinks around the chorus of the noir jazz blues "Nobody Stays" like a panther on the prowl as Tony Rogers' guitar lays down subtle licks that provide the smoky, stale beer, last-call atmosphere. Although she's clearly a fan of female blues legends exemplified by her terrific take on Big Maybelle's "Don't Leave Poor Me" and a piano-driven "Ain't No Use," Rogers applies their intensity to a slightly more updated style that pays respects to the past without wallowing in it.
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AllMusic Review by Hal Horowitz