Lucky 13

Lucky 13

by Fiona Boyes & the Fortune TellersFiona Boyes & the Fortune Tellers


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Nearly all of Fiona Boyes' previous reviews have acknowledged that she is an exceptional female blues guitarist, but it's time to lay the gender qualifier to rest: Fiona Boyes is an exceptional blues guitarist, period, as well as an exceptional vocalist and songwriter. Having released several albums in her native Australia, both with her '90s band, the Mojos, and under her own name -- most recently a double-live set recorded in Atlanta -- Boyes finally tried her luck in the market that has inspired her music. Lucky 13 is her first American release, and it's one wicked slab of blues. Most of Boyes' previous recordings have showcased her acoustic guitar work, but from the first "Smokestack Lightning"-like notes of Lucky 13's opener, "Chicken Wants Corn," Boyes lets it be known that this time she's cranking up the volume. Her electric guitar playing throughout displays both enormous skill and a true empathy with the American roots music she's adapted as her own. With a particular allegiance to the Chicago and New Orleans styles, and nods to Texas, Memphis, and Mississippi, Boyes' picking can be alternately nasty/dirty or smooth/sweet, but regardless of the subgenre, she's consistently economical, tasteful, and imaginative, bringing to each tune crisp, melodic lines and a sense of history; there's no question that Boyes has spent many an hour studying the nuances of the form. That isn't to suggest that this is an exercise in retro, though: Boyes perfectly bridges modernity with classicism. Ten of the album's 13 tracks were composed by the artist, who keeps her sound rooted in the present while aesthetically transporting herself to Chicago's South Side of the mid-20th century to hang with Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf, and then stepping further back to pay a visit to Memphis Minnie down in Louisiana. For the occasion of her U.S. debut, Boyes took advantage of the local talent, augmenting her core group the Fortune Tellers with Bob Margolin, one of Waters' former guitarists; the Texan pianist Marcia Ball; saxman Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff; and others. But while her guests lend to the effort their considerable experience on the American blues scene, the spotlight is never off of Boyes, who impresses on each track with her virtuosic guitaristry and versatile vocalizing. She likes to keep the listener guessing, too: "Rockabilly on the Radio," a screaming, twanging '50s-style rocker, the tender ballad "Stranger in Your Eyes," and the jump blues "Big Bigger Biggest" may all at first seem anomalies, but they fit neatly into the plan. And although the album's focus is her electric playing, Boyes doesn't neglect her acoustic fingerpicking on Lucky 13. "Pigmeat Lover," one of a handful of tracks spotlighting longtime Asleep at the Wheel pianist Floyd Domino, recalls Maria Muldaur's early solo albums, while the cover of Lillian McMurry's "Red Hot Kisses," a duet with Margolin, is country-blues at its finest. Fiona Boyes may be from Down Under, but with albums this good she'll be on top of all of the blues polls before long.

Product Details

Release Date: 08/08/2006
Label: Yellow Dog Records
UPC: 0823800135327
catalogNumber: 21353
Rank: 102303

Album Credits

Performance Credits

Fiona Boyes & the Fortune Tellers   Primary Artist
Marcia Ball   Piano,Vocals
Bob Margolin   Guitar,Vocals
Floyd Domino   Piano
Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff   Harp,Tenor Saxophone
Danny Levin   Fiddle,Mandolin
Chris Maresh   Upright Bass
Derek O'Brien   Guitar
Riley Osbourne   Organ
Mark Rubin   Tuba
Stan Smith   Clarinet
Randy Zimmerman   Trombone
Larry Fulcher   Bass
Gomez   Trumpet
Joel Jose Guzman   Accordion
John H.R. Mills   Baritone Saxophone
Fiona Boyes   Guitar,Vocals
Barry "Frosty" Smith   Percussion,Drums

Technical Credits

Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff   Producer,Horn Arrangements,Audio Production
Stuart Sullivan   Engineer
Lillian McMurry   Composer
Art Tipaldi   Liner Notes
Brooke Barnett   Graphic Design
Fiona Boyes   Composer

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