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December 2020

Kat Riggins
Cry Out
Gulf Coast Records

Kat Riggins

Kat Riggins has been gaining momentum over the past few years with dynamic live performances and excellent albums. Her latest effort, Cry Out (Gulf Coast Records), should be her breakthrough release if there’s any justice in the world. Her fans already know that Riggins’ powerful vocals have been compared favorably to Koko Taylor, Etta James, and Tina Turner --- pretty heady stuff and true --- but she’s very much her own lady as well, capable of going from tough to tender with ease and nimbly moving from blues to rock to soul and gospel. She’s also a first-rate songwriter, which really comes to the forefront on this release.

The album blasts out of the gate with the rip-roaring opener, “Son Of A Gun,” with Riggins’ ferocious, defiant vocal driven by Mike Zito’s roaring guitar and the hard-driving rhythm section (Brian Zielle – drums, Doug Byrkit – bass). She eases up the tone, but not the intensity on the mid-tempo single, “Cry Out,” previously reviewed in July at Blues Bytes, which asks for all to come together to resolve our differences.

The R&B-fueled cautionary tale, “Meet Your Maker,” adds horns and an irresistible guitar hook, and “Catching Up” is a raucous roadhouse rocker, while “Truth” mixes blues rock with funk quite effectively.
The midpoint of the album is an a capella interlude with Riggins’ singing the chorus of Ocean’s ’60s hit, “Put Your Hand In The Hand,” which segues into the gospel-flavored “Heavy,” another call for calm and unity, the latter concluding with a sweet choir of children that include Riggins’ Godson, niece and nephews.

“Wicked Tongue” is a fiery rocker with superb guitar work, I’m assuming from Zito (liner notes don’t really go into much depth with credits), and “Can You See Me Now” brings back the horns and it’s a powerful foray into rock and soul.

“Burn It All Down” is a raw-edged rocker with a great, grungy guitar riff, and the briskly-paced “On It’s Way” adds B3, horns, and sweet soulful backing vocals. On the blues rocker “No Sale,” Riggins takes on the devil at the crossroads and walks away the winner before wrapping up the disc with the powerful declarative slow burner, “The Storm.”

I’ve been impressed by Riggins’ previous releases. Her powerful, versatile vocals and her highly personalized songwriting are outstanding. Cry Out is her first release on Zito’s Gulf Coast Records, and it’s her best to date. It’s about time the rest of the blues world caught up with Kat Riggins’ amazing talent.

--- Graham Clarke



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