Presumed Innocent (Alligator)
Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., April 27, 2001
Presumed Innocent (Alligator)Marcia Ball is such a class act that the plea of innocence on her latest album might be believable if she weren't so damn guilty of instigating such a good time. Presumed Innocent is Ball's ninth album since she began pounding the ivories professionally in the Seventies, and her first for Alligator, Chicago's esteemed blues label. Relatively speaking, that's not a huge output, but each LP is a solid effort and tracks not just Ball's long career, but the history of Austin music as it has shifted from country to blues to roots. The 13 tracks on PI are soulful testament to Ball's Cajun-cum-Texan persona, as evidenced by the rollicking (gotta use that word in every Marcia review!) "Thibodaux, Louisiana," "You Make Me Happy," and "Louella." Indict Ball's co-producer Doyle Bramhall (the elder) and recording engineer/ex-Pariah guitarist Jared Tuten for coercing indecently horn-laden swamp pop ("I'm Coming Down With the Blues"), unleashing murderous honky-tonk ("Shake a Leg"), and being responsible for Ball's "Leaving the Scene of a Crime." Conspirators include Delbert McClinton, Wayne Jackson, C.C.Adcock, Caspar Rawls, Sonny Landreth, and Mark Kazanoff. Ball pleads "She's So Innocent," a low and sweet ballad sung with conviction as is "I Have the Right to Know" and "Let the Tears Roll Down." "I can get a witness, ain't no doubt at all," testifies Ball on "Fly on the Wall," but she needs none. Her record is spotless and Presumed Innocent is entered on her behalf as a stellar example of musical artistry. Besides, a new Marcia Ball release always assures one thing: She'll be playing it in and not behind bars.