Good As Gone
VizzTone Label Group
I've read multiple reviews of Casey Hensley's
previous live album and seen her listed on
various blues events, but I had never heard the
San Diego blues singer's voice until I plucked
her latest album, Good As Gone, from my
ever-growing pile of CDs waiting to be reviewed.
It didn't take long for me to realize that this
20-something woman has a great future ahead of
her in the blues biz. I haven't heard a voice
with this much power in quite some time as she
immediately started belting out the blues just
seconds into the first song on Good As Gone.
Her big voice came booming through my ear buds,
threatening to shatter my ear drums. Yes, it's a
big voice --- like, real big!
Backing Ms Hensley on this CD is blues guitarist
extraordinaire Laura Chavez, who really deserves co-star billing
for her exemplary guitar playing. The
rest of the bandmates --- Marcos C. (bass), Evan
Caleb Yearsley (drumms), Jonny Viau, Steven
Ebner (horns) --- are just as solid. All nine
cuts here are Hensley originals, and she also
produced the recording sessions with help from
Opening the disc is the title cut, with
Hensley's voice bursting out in a very up-tempo
blues boogie that also gives Chavez her first
chance to show off on the guitar while the rest of the
band races to keep up with the frantic pace. The
tempo slows considerably on a west side Chicago
blues, "You Should Be So Lucky," with Chavez
bending the notes on her guitar, sounding just
like vintage Otis Rush, while Hensley shows
range as she soars through the
octaves. This one is a killer, perhaps the best
cut on the album.
Hensley then takes the listener down to the
riverside with the more primal "If I Pray,"
vocals raising the hairs on my arms. At one
point she holds a very loud note for
a long time, again showing how much strength she
has in her voice. Chavez lays down some smokin'
guitar licks to introduce a 1940s-style up-tempo
jump blues, "Be My Baby (What Do You Say?)."
Chavez really turns it up on a mid-song solo as
her fingers just plain fly over the guitar
The pain in Hensley's voice comes pouring out on
a slow, soulful ballad, "Love Will Break Your
Heart." Just one of the many verses of her angst
is when she sings, "...His love is going to be
the death of me ..." The horn work of Viau and
Ebner provide a framework for each line, and, of
course, there's a breath-taking guitar solo from
Chavez. Perhaps Hensley didn't learn from the pain in her
heart, because she's back to the hunt on the
slow blues, "Searching For A Man."
The horn section takes the lead in the intro to
the up-tempo jumpin' blues, "What's A Woman To
Do," as well as getting a solo later in the
song. The pace changes still another time with
the slow ballad, "Don't Want It To Stop,"
turnings in one of her better guitar solos here
while the power in Hensley's vocals still again comes out
in full force.
Closing out this very fine album is another
up-tempo jump blues, "All In," with Chavez's
guitar work venturing into '50s-era rockabilly.
This number lasts only two minutes and 18
seconds, but quite frankly I was breathing
rather heavily by the time we hit the finish
The pacing and mood changes from one cut to the
next are outstanding, just showing that Hensley
also has a knack for the production side of the
business. Good As Gone
already ranks as one of the best blues albums of
2020, and I can't wait for more from this
exciting artist. She was supposed to be playing
in our town right around the time I completed
this review, but of course all shows
were canceled because of the coronavirus.
I'll be patient because I know she'll be back in
town before long, and I'll certainly be near the
front of the line for that show.
--- Bill Mitchell