Blues Bytes


August 2018

Ally Venable
Puppet Show
Connor Ray Music

Ally Venable

At the tender age of 19, Houston blues-rock guitarist Ally Venable has released her second disc on Connor Ray Music. Puppet Show kicks things up a notch from her previous release, 2016’s No Glass Shoes. This time around, Venable is leading a power-packing trio (Elijah Owings – drums, Bobby Wallace – bass), with additional support from a formidable guest list that includes labelmate/producer Steve Krase (harmonica), Gary Hoey and Lance Lopez (guitars), along with Eric Steckel (keyboards).

Guitarist Hoey makes his appearance on the scorching opening track, “Devil’s Son,” which sets the bar pretty high. Lopez guests on the next track, “Bridges To Burn,” another heavy hitter which has a bit of a metal feel. “Cast Their Stones” is another hard rocker, with Venable’s powerful vocal chops on full display on this track about overcoming adversity. The next two tracks, both covers, feature Krase on harmonica: Bessie Smith’s “Backwater Blues,” which transforms from its country blues opening into a blistering blues rocker, and a soulful, sassy take on the Taj Mahal/Yank Rachell standard, “She Caught The Katy,” with Steckel on keys.

The title track shows Venable asserting her independence in strong fashion with a tough, but tender vocal, which is matched and even bested on the very next track with a breathtaking performance on the superlative slow blues “Comfort In My Sorrow,” which boasts a pretty sweet guitar solo, too. “Survive” is another fiery tune of perseverance, with Steckel sitting in again on keyboards, and “Waste It On You” allows plenty of room for Venable’s fretwork. “Sleeping Through The Storm” closes the disc in excellent fashion, a hard-driving and determined rocker.

This is a remarkably confident and assured release. Already a top notch guitarist, vocalist, and fine songwriter, Ally Venable is definitely ready to move forward in the blues world. Puppet Show should give her a major boost in that direction.

--- Graham Clarke



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