Blues Bytes


August 2006

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Fiona Boyes
Lucky 13
Yellow Dog Records

Fiona Boyes

I first met Fiona Boyes in 2003 at the outdoor stage next to King’s Palace in Memphis. She was playing the day after that year’s W.C. Handy awards and I was curious to hear whether all of the IBC buzz I’d heard about her was true. What I found was an articulate artist who was true to her music, and I enjoyed her playing so much that I purchased two CDs from her that day. And while I’ve not heard her previous album, Live In Atlanta, it was a pleasure to hear from Michael Powers of Yellow Dog Records and receive her latest CD, Lucky 13, in the mail for review.

Lucky 13 is a very strong record that most likely will bring Fiona’s name to the tongues of many a listener. Ably produced in Austin, Texas by Kaz Kazanoff and featuring guest stars Bob Margolin, Marcia Ball and the Texas Horns, Lucky 13 demands your attention and commands your respect as a listener. This is a brilliant US debut album from an Australian artist we’ll be hearing about for a long time to come.

An old soul who best relates to Memphis Minnie, Fiona kicks off her record with a self-penned original song, “Chicken Wants Corn.” An odd love song at best, “I want you baby like a chicken wants corn!” Fiona’s finger picking is wonderfully complimented by the Texas Horns and lets you know early on that this lady is a force to be reckoned with. Fiona and Marcia share the spotlight on “Celebrate the Curves,” an ode to the full figured woman. “I’m built like a woman’s meant to be built with a belly, butt and boobs!” Fiona is proud of her curves and isn’t shy in letting you know that…”I put the swing in my swerve….excuse me while I celebrate my curves!”

Margolin brings his slide guitar to the forefront on Fiona’s “Good Lord Made You So.” Her man is like the wind, sometimes he’s here, other times he’s gone away. “I ain’t had no rest, no peace…you know that ain’t a rest, no peace…that man of mine keeps sliding on by.” Her man can’t help it, it’s just the way the good Lord made him be. A strong guitar intro by Fiona leads us into “Stranger in Your Eyes.” This time her man is just not what she thinks he is, “I see a stranger where I once saw a friend.” Disappointed by the man he is, Fiona confronts him with the truth and since he’s been doing her wrong, it’s time for him to move on. A wonderful sax solo by Kaz highlights an outstanding tune by Fiona, with nice accordion accompaniment from Joel Guzman. “I see a weak man where a hero used to stand.” This one just can’t have a happy ending.

New Orleans-style piano by Marcia leads the intro into “You Gonna Miss Me.” It’s time for Fiona to move on from another bad relationship and she’s proud to admonish her man with “You may never find a gal as fine as me again!” I have no doubt that’s the case and he’s a fool for ever treating her badly and watching her leave. “High Cotton” has a religious revivalist feel to it, “One of these days I hope and pray things are going to go my way….I’ll be standing in high cotton one fine day!”

The humor of Fiona returns in “Pigmeat Lover.” “You got a pigmeat lover…you didn’t treat her right….cause if the cookin’s good you know the gal will want to cook all night!” A blues song in the classic acoustic tradition of the ’20s, “Pigmeat Lover” is but one example of many that bring Fiona back to her blues roots from the early pre-war era of Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie. “Hold Me” is an upbeat love song to her man. “Hold me baby, squeeze me daddy..please never break my heart…cause you’re the one I want beside me when the day is done!”

Margolin’s slide work returns in “Red Hot Kisses”. “Ever since I kissed you I’ve tried to forget….your red hot kisses….you have red hot kisses but a cold, cold heart.” Both Fiona and Bob seem to regret the hot moment of passion that confounds them both. “I thought you were an angel that I saw in my dreams…Now I’m having nightmares and I’m almost bout to scream.” This train wreck is going to do nothing but end badly for both of them.

A swing beat lends itself to “Big, Bigger, Biggest”. “Big, bigger, biggest…how did you ever fit in them britches?” Her man wheels and deals with the best of them and is just too big for his own good. Moving on to “Rambling Man Blues” we find that Fiona’s love is on the move again. “My man went to rambling…he won’t say what’s on his mind…no matter if I treat him nice and kind…he’s going out in the woods to find what he can find.”

The pace picks up considerably in “Rockabilly on the Radio.” Fiona and Marcia trade leads on this fast paced swing tune. “Come on out tonight, the headlights shining bright….we’ll stop and find a little place to walk….you’ll be playing rockabilly on the radio!”

The CD closes with the ballad, “Homesick Blues.” “I’ll go most anyplace but my heart wants to go back home.” “I got my hat in Kansas City…and my shirt on up the road…hey, but my shoes come from my hometown…hey now, watch them walk me home!”

Lucky 13 is one of the top two female contemporary blues albums I’ve listened to all year and puts Fiona into some elite company when the powers that be decide on the nominees for next year’s Blues Music Awards. This is an impressive album by a female artist who not only plays a mean guitar but shows musical sensibilities way beyond her age. Fiona’s true to her roots, respectful of those blues legends she admires and proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that she’ll be a force to reckon with for a long time to come.

--- Kyle Deibler


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