I’ve always thought of Rory Block as a modern country-blues, acoustic-slide playing, soulful singer. Here, she changes the program a bit. The emphasis here is on soul music. Not the stuff of Robert Johnson and delta bluesmen, but the stuff of Al Green and Ashford and Simpson. And, Block handles it all nicely.
If you’re a fan of her guitar playing, there’s not a lot of what you’re used to here. The cuts on the CD are bookended by short bluesy acoustic blues that she performs solo. In between, there’s some really good guitar playing, but most of it is by veteran studio ace Jeff Mironov. His right-on-the-money rhythm licks and fills propel cuts like the cover of Al Green’s “Tired of Being Alone.” Block’s vocals on that one really shine too. Her soulful ease around the notes and the words are both a tribute to the original, and sound fresh. Both Block and Mironov shine again on a cover of the Womack and Womack chestnut “Love T.K.O.,” a song made a hit by Teddy Pendergrass way back when. Keb’ Mo’ makes the cover of “Ain’t Nothin’ Like the Real Thing” a soulful treat. Even the one Block original, “Talkin’ About My Man” is one for fans of soul music. It’s a soul ballad with great vocals and a wonderful arrangement.
The other main influence here is gospel. The a capella versions of “Sea Lion Woman” and “Ain’t No grave Can Hold My Body Down” are incredible. Block’s vocals mix with performances by various guests that will bring chills to your body.
This is one of my favorite albums in a while. Block’s earthy vocals mix with a very sultry sound she can seemingly pull up from anywhere and at anytime to really help a tune convey what it’s supposed to. If you’ve never been impressed by Block as a vocalist, check this one out. It’s well worth your attention.
This article originally appeared in VG‘s April ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.