Blues Bytes


June 2021

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Patti Parks
Whole Nother World

Booga Music / Vizz Tone

Patti Parks

Whole Nother World (Vizz Tone) is my first album by Patti Parks, and if she continues to make music this good I'll look forward to years of building up my library of her recordings. The western New York state native headed to Baton Rouge, Louisiana to record this album after legendary blues cat Kenny Neal discovered her singing in the International Blues Challenge. Neal produced and played guitar on the album, in addition to releasing it on his own Booga Music label. While it's a bit short at only eight songs, every number here is solid and worth listening to repeatedly. The more I listen to this album, the more it grows on me.

Whole Nother World starts with one of the best and most powerful cuts, "I'm Trouble," with lots of horns and Fredrick Neals' hot piano solo behind Parks' big voice. She convinces the listener that she really means it when she says she's trouble, and we're all signing up for the ride when she asks whether we'd like to get in trouble with her. Slowing the tempo considerably is the next cut, the bluesy "More Than You'll Ever Know," packed jam full of emotion in Parks' voice.

I love her version of the James Brown classic, "It's a Man's Man's Man's World," with Parks giving her voice plenty of power and soul. A highlight that you'll want to hear over and over --- just keep pressing repeat. "Baby Bee" is a Kenny Neal original, a slow bayou country blues with Neal playing both guitar and harmonica as well as sharing vocals with Parks. This one just drips with Baton Rouge sweat and swamp water.

Staying in a Louisiana state of mind, "Stickin' to My Guns" is an up-tempo blues shuffle with Parks belting out sassy vocals while Neal complements with tasty Lazy Lester-style harmonica. Brandon Adams opens the pleasant soul ballad, "Don't Play Me Cheap," with both piano and organ accompaniment while Jason Parfait comes in with jazzy sax work. "I Can't Think" is pure horn-driven soul with a blues shuffle rhythm and a very nice organ solo by Adams.

Bringing this package to a close is the snaky blues, "No Means No," with Parks being very assertive with that man by telling him when it's time to go, singing, "... If I want more, I'll let you know ..." and "... the light is stuck on red 'til I say it's green ..."

Whole Nother World has barely satisfied my newfound appetite for music from Patti Parks. It's a good start, and now I'll wait patiently for the next album.

--- Bill Mitchell



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