Various Artists

I Can't Be Satisfied: Early American Women Blues Singers, Vol. 2: Town

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Although this second volume of I Can't Be Satisfied features a more uptown approach to the blues than the first volume, which centered on the rural aspects, this selection of American women blues singers from the 1920s is only a small degree removed from those roots, and the presence of small jazz combos and striking horn leads on these sides augments that Deep South country blues pedigree way more than it transforms it into the halls of urbane sophistication. These tracks are still undeniably the blues, and the jazz trappings can't disguise that fact. After all, having the blues in town isn't any different than having them in the country, and if there is a difference between the rural and the urban approaches, it may be that the sensuality on display here is even more pronounced and boldly delivered. Some of these sides literally purr (and some downright roar) as such fine singers as Sippie Wallace ("Section Hand Blues"), Clara Smith ("Strugglin' Woman's Blues"), Madlyn Davis ("Winter Blues"), and the unstoppable Ma Rainey (a chugging jug band version of "Traveling Blues") instill sometimes clich├ęd floating blues lyrics with passion and verve, bringing them to life with an often amazing vibrancy, reminding listeners that the blues aren't really about being down and out, but instead are about surviving on one's own terms.

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