Heaping helping of high-profile local LPs
Reviewed by Nina Hernandez, Fri., Oct. 31, 2014
After 44 years of singing Bayou blues, Marcia Ball proves she can reinvent herself with a keystroke. Accompanied by a burst of brass, Austin's longtime ivory merchant pounds torrid tales of The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man and their sideshow endeavors on her fifth release for Alligator Records. Follow-up to the straight arrow Roadside Attractions in 2011, the NOLA boogie is punctuated by subtle appearances from fellow Lone Star staples. Delbert McClinton's freight train harmonica on "Can't Blame Nobody but Myself" ups the ante, followed by Thad Scott's jubilant tenor saxophone and Wendy Moten's soulful backup vocals engulfing "Just Keep Holding On." Meanwhile Ball croons in her feathery drawl, running the gamut from beery honky-tonk ("Like There's No Tomorrow") to electric groove ("Lazy Blues"). She tames R&B nostalgia with a tender rendition of "He's the One," a Fifties Hank Ballard classic, then steers back into Texas country with the accordion-laced "The Squeeze Is On." The album arrives rightly dedicated to Marcia Ball's fellow Austin cornerstone, late singer-songwriter Sarah Elizabeth Campbell, who, before succumbing to cancer last December, embraced her craft and peers above everything else.