After Sapphire

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Both Gaye Adegbalola and Andra Faye were members of Saffire—The Uppity Blues Women, and prior to its retiring in 2009, the group released eight albums on Alligator Records that featured their stock in trade: covers of material by Bessie Smith, Memphis Minnie and many other “uppity blues women,” plus original sassy feminist songs. Post-Saffire, we have new offerings from each of the women's latest projects. Many of the songs on Adegbalola & The Wild Rutz's Is It Still Good to Ya? sound like they're in rut (i.e., “Eye Candy”: “Looks like dark chocolate/I always love to eat/…she's my favorite treat”), but the band's name is pronounced “roots.” The four-woman a cappella group carries on Saffire's tradition of salty blues, i.e., “Boy in the Boat” by Adegbalola, a very open lesbian. Coulda Woulda Shoulda, by Faye and guitarist Scott Ballantine, is a lively collection of 13 songs, eight of them originals, that spotlight Faye's vocals (tart) and mandolin (sweet). The bouncy title track is a seemingly rueful compendium that changes gears when she says, “But I just don't give a damn.” Another original, “Blues for a Crappy Day,” a litany of things gone wrong, features Faye's evocative fiddle.