Alice Stuart has a lineage of blues music behind her that not only impresses, but will also surprise many of the uninitiated that may feel they had a good grasp on the history of the genre. I cannot fathom why such a pioneering blues woman has not received the worldwide recognition that she so justly deserves, given the many years of plugging away in this business, I think its time we all took a harder look at this amazing artist.
I took one look at the cover and could tell that Stuart has traveled many musical roads; she has that old time blues player look about her. Her career goes back to the sixties when she played at the World’s Fair in 1961, then she did a stint with Frank Zappa and "The Mothers of Invention." That is the short version of were she has been and whom she has played with. Playing on tour with Mississippi John Hurt was the turning point of her destiny and choice in music; she never looked beyond the blues after that. From there and everything else in between we now have "Can’t Find No Heaven," a new release that gives notice that she still is a major player and a force to be reckoned with in the blues. She was the first woman to front a band of men and a major influence on artists like Bonnie Raitt. Taj Mahal said, "Alice cut the road Bonnie traveled." With that kind of sweeping influence, its no wonder that this album knocked my socks off!
Stuart considers herself as both an interpreter and a songwriter. I can agree that she has an incredible sense for each song she performs. She can play the acoustic and electric guitar with equal deftness and passion. Her vocals take the music to the next level and beyond. Her deep down-from-the-toes gruff ness and built-for-the-blues vocal style puts all the emotion and life experience that has taken years and years of playing on the road and in the studio to develop to good use. She lays it all one the line in every song.
"The Man’s So Good" and "Night Patrol" smolder with the ardor that a sage like Alice could only muster in a song. Those two tracks were my favorites; they are the essence of the electric blues. "Big Boss Man" gets the full treatment; her voice really gets the point across. By the time it is over you know where she is coming from, where she has been, and where she is going. Stuart’s magic is spun on other people’s songs to bring attention to that particularly artists’ work and her innate ability to completely rework a classic and make it all her own. Her talents have many dimensions.
This woman is a monument to the blues. Its time she got all the respect she deserves as one of the most important contributors to the genre and a trailblazer for woman artists all over the world.
I have to disagree with Alice, there is plenty of heaven to be found, and its right here on this CD.