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Gaye Adegbalola: Bitter Sweet Blues

Gaye Adegbalola of the popular acoustic blues group Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women makes her solo debut on Bitter Sweet Blues (Alligator 4870; 49:12). Produced by fellow female blueswoman Rory Block, who also provides acoustic slide guitar work throughout, this spirited, semi-autobiographical project ranges from the traditional blues of Ma Rainey (“Prove It on Me”) and Bessie Smith (“Need a Little Sugar in My Bowl,” “Jail House Blues”) to socially relevant material like her harrowing tales of spousal abuse, “You Don’t Have to Take It (Like I Did),” and child molestation, “Nightmare,” or her angry protest song “Nothing’s Changed,” a laundry list of injustices in the world. Adegbalola’s well-known sense of humor is played out on “The Dog Was Here First” and “Big Ovaries, Baby.” She also offers a stark, a cappella reading of Nina Simone’s “Images” and a faithful rendition of Smokey Robinson’s soul anthem “You Really Got a Hold on Me.” Powerful, passionate and poignant.

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