Teeny Tucker

Keep the Blues Alive

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Blues vocalist Teeny Tucker is carving out a good career, following in the footsteps of her rhythm & blues singing father Tommy Tucker. This third album shows she's maturing rapidly, although frankly, she's always had spunk and drive enough to rise above garden-variety vocalists in this genre. With the poise, guts, and no-nonsense voice similar to Etta James, Tucker and songwriting partner/guitarist Robert Hughes have created this program of original material that speaks to both the electric or urban tradition with modified and updated lyrics based in contemporary issues. There's a personalized approach where Tucker speaks about the hard life in songs during brisk rockers "I Live Alone," and the autobiographical "Make Room for Teeny" written by Pam and Lee Durley, where the singer claims she lives the "one hundred and fifty proof blues." The swing shuffle of "Old Man Magnet" might be a sign of current-day fashionistas having the provocative upper hand, while the title track sports a full vocal choir with the solid-sending voice of Tucker leading the charge. Slower tunes really emphasize how she's influenced by Etta James, but also that the acoustic side of blues is important to her, as heard during "John Cephas," where she rattles off names of past backporch, unplugged heroes such as Cephas, Blind Lemon Jefferson, Mississippi John Hurt, Blind Boy Fuller, Rev. Gary Davis, Blind Blake, Tampa Red, and Skip James. The addition of organist Linda Dachtyl on three tracks doesn't hurt, either. Teeny Tucker is among a growing number of female blues belters taking different paths to stardom or wider recognition, but she's one of the very best, as proven on this fine recording that most blues lovers should fully appreciate.

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