Blues Bytes

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October 2021

Sue Foley
PInky's Blues
Stony Plain Records

Sue Foley

It's been quite a few years (more than 30) since guitarist Sue Foley left her home in Canada to head to Austin, Texas to further her blues career. She's recorded prolifically during that time, with the outstanding Pinky's Blues being her 16th release and her first on Canadian label Stony Plain Records. I can't say that I've listened to every single item in her discography, but I truly believe that Pinky's Blues deserves a gold star as one of the best. Backed by a strong trio of Jon Penner (bass), Chris Layton (drums) and Mike Flanigin (Hammond B3 / producer), this album smokes throughout its dozen songs.

The title cut opens the album, setting the stage for what we're going to hear the rest of the way. It's a slow blues instrumental with Foley showing off her talent on guitar. That leads into a mid-tempo shuffle composed by Angela Strehli, "Two Bit Texas Town," on which Foley sings about past blues artists. Increasing the tempo is the rockin' "Dallas Man."

"Southern Men" is a vehicle for Foley to sing about how she feels about men from the south and her hopes that they will desire her as much, with Layton's rhythmic drumming laying down the foundation behind our star's snaky guitar licks. Up next is one of the best cuts when Foley shows off the Magic Sam influence in her playing on another Strehli composition, the slow blues "Say It's Not So." (Ms. Strehli did this one on her Blonde and Blue album, which is immediately being added to my playlist). Foley switches guitar heroes to sound like Elmore James on her own composition, "Hurricane Girl," a blues shuffle with plenty of sass on her strong vocals, singing, "....I'm a force of nature, I'm a hurricane girl ..." Jimmie Vaughan shows up in the studio to add rhythm guitar here.

The up-tempo Lavelle White original, "Stop These Teardrops," gives Foley a chance to pay tribute to Ms. White, a great Austin singer from a couple of decades ago. This one's got a funky beat with, inviting the listener to hit repeat several times while going through the album. That leads into another of the album's best songs, with an up-tempo cover of Frankie Lee Sims' "Boogie Real Low" that just plain cooks. Foley shows here that her voice has matured nicely over the years, and shows the versatility in both her song selection and vocal work on the Lillie Mae Donley slow ballad, "Think It Over."

I can never get enough versions of Gatemouth Brown's classic Texas blues guitar instrumental "Okie Dokie Stomp," with Foley's intricate guitar picking giving her rendition even more smoke and fire. "Someday" is a mid-tempo blues shuffle done originally by Robert Nighthawk, and Foley proves she's got the guitar credentials to do a great version.

Closing out Pinky's Blues is Willie Dixon's up-tempo stomper "When The Cat's Gone The Mice Will Play," which is basically the same tune as Junior Wells' "Messin' With The Kid." It's a fun romp that allows the album to end on a very strong note.

The release of Pinky's Blues is timed to coincide with a fall tour by Foley and band, so go out to see her if she comes anywhere near your town. Regardless, this album will provide plenty of good listening to warm your soul.

--- Bill Mitchell



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