Rory Block

When a Woman Gets the Blues

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What does a woman do when she gets the blues? If she is blues wizard Rory Block, she gets out her guitar and starts singing and playing until her spirits lift. That is exactly what she does on this 1995 Rounder recording. The CD features her son, Jordan Block Valdina, on vocals with her, along with Annie Raines on harmonica and Warren Bernhardt on piano and harmonica. Together, they reach back in time for some tried-and-true blues, as well as one original from the pen of the blues diva. "Take My Heart Away" is Block's own contribution to the recording, which won her a W.C. Handy award in 1996 for Best Traditional Blues Album. The jury was impressed with her form on songs that like Blind Willie McTell's "T'aint Long for Day," which sounds as fresh as when it was first recorded over half a century ago. Block's unique voice shines on a cappella pieces, such as "Sweet Sunny South" and "Be Ready When He Comes." The latter is a beautiful gospel tune which finds mother and son harmonizing and trading leads. As sonorous and sweet as some of the cuts are, others are hard-driving country blues. Block gets in a scorching cover of Son House's "Preaching Blues" and turns plaintive on "Tallahatchie Blues" and "Peavine Blues," then bitter for "Joliet Blues." This is Rory Block at her best.

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