Saturday, November 4, 2017

Music Reviews: Wild Little Girl

You may remember Debra Devi from the interview she previously did here. Now the author, former magazine editor and self taught Jersey City based professional singer-songwriter-guitarist has released a 6 song EP (on the digital release the sixth song is a live version) entitled Wild Little Girl. I believe that this is her first official release since Get Free. This was all in all a very good release. I really really liked one song which I will discuss below. The remaining balance of the material was pretty good. This is an EP. None of the songs are longer than five minutes. Sometimes I like that. Sometimes I do not.

So just like a collection of short stories, if there's something that's not really your particular cup of tea just wait a while because you can be certain that something better is coming up shortly. On the other hand there were at least two songs that I wished had gone on for a little longer. Maybe that will happen on the next release. Although blues is ultimately at the foundation of a lot of the music that Devi creates, for this installment of her creative output she is blues based but not blues bound. This music is rock with a bluesy feel. The music here put me in mind of The Black Crowes, Prince, and Little Feat. Vocally Devi is a dead ringer for Sheryl Crow. I happen to like Crow's voice so for me this was a very good thing. Perhaps at some point in the future people will be saying that Crow's voice is a dead ringer for Devi's. Time will tell. If I had to classify Devi's voice I'd guess she was an alto. What's she's not is a belter. She has arranged the songs to recognize this fact. 

The only qualm which I had about this release is that it seemed to my ear that the mixing was configured to the demands of the streaming/download market. It was a very bright loud mix, but it didn't quite have the dynamics of the seventies music which I like best-think Roberta Flack's First Take, Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life or Free's Fire and Water. I like a big fat full deep bass and resonant bass drum above all else. But that's a minority view in today's market. 

The song I liked best on this release was "Stay". This song was inspired by a friend who lost a wife to cancer. This is also a love song and something which is very optimistic. Lyrically it reminded me of the Sonia Dada song "Ain't Life for the Living", while musically it's not so different from something Prince might have done somewhere around Parade or Around the World in a Day. Life goes on. That is both the beauty and tragedy of life. Devi's whammy bar ending solo in "Stay" whips around frantically but is never out of control. It's got a melody that just hits you right where it counts. I thought this song had the best balance between vocals and instrumentation. It could have gone on much longer as far as I was concerned. I really wish it did. A good song usually leaves you wanting more. "Stay" did that. "Stay" is one of those songs you want to hear done live because you know the artist will take things much further than they did on the cd. "Shake It" was written before all the Weinstein and related news about sexual assault, sexual harassment and generalized entertainment industry creepiness became public knowledge but the subject matter fits in well with today's zeitgeist. It's about a man who's trying to convince his girlfriend to become a stripper so that they can pay the rent and HE can pursue his music dreams. "Tired of Waiting" is something the great Betty Davis might have written/sung. It shares some subject matter with Fleetwood Mac's " Rattlesnake Shake", only this time told from a woman's point of view. A woman explains to her exhausted man that her fingers are tired of doing all of the work, if you know what I mean. This is another song that could have lasted longer without any complaints from me. The solo is monstrous. This had the most deliberate seventies stoner throwback vibe to it. 

"Butterfly" is solid power pop. It's about a woman who knows she's not a playboy's type but wants to get with him anyway, regardless of the fact that she might will get burned. I liked the rhythm guitar riff and keyboards. "10 Miles to Clarksdale" does double duty as a paean to long gone musicians like blues great Robert Johnson and as another example of three being a crowd when it comes to love. I thought this was okay but might have been better served with just Devi and her guitar. But YMMV. As said I liked this. Devi is growing as a singer, writer and guitarist. She pretty obviously had fun recording and producing this. The music radiates infectious joy.

Stay   Butterfly 10 Miles to Clarksdale  Tired of Waiting Shake It
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