Toni Price

Born to Be Blue (Antone's / TMG)

Texas Platters

Toni Price

Born to Be Blue (Antone's/TMG) Celebrating death through music is a bittersweet undertaking, particularly on feel-good music. Titled for Mel Tormé's torch ballad of the same name, Born to Be Blue displays the maturity of Austin's Toni Price and her uncompromising quest for quality while mourning her late accompanist Champ Hood. She's as assured with Tormé as she is with Dr. John ("Clouds") and comfortable enough to take a backseat to Casper Rawls on "Blue River." Doo-wop complements Price on "Rain Down Tears," while she gets feisty during the shuffle step of "Get the Hell Outta Dodge." No disc by the queen of the back-porch blues would be complete without a tune from Nashville songsmith Gwil Owen, and he gives her three sterling selections: "Nothing but Heartache," "Not Coming Home," and closer "One of These Lonely Days." The production by Price and Derek O'Brien is tender on Champ Hood's "Sad As It Seems," a tribute to her beloved friend and longtime sideman, and yet everything you want from the singer is in Shelly King's "Tennessee Whiskey," Price's voice a sultry purr. "Tennessee Whiskey" underscores Price's love affair with songwriters, because she doesn't just interpret a song, she owns it. That's a distinction shared by the best vocalists, a category Toni Price takes her place in with Born to Be Blue.

***.5

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