Saffire the Uppity Blues Women
Havin’ the Last Word
First the sad news: After 25 years together, pianist Ann Rabson, guitarist Gaye Adegbalola and “newcomer” Andra Faye (the multi-instrumentalist who replaced original bassist Earlene Lewis 16 years ago) have decided to go their separate ways. First, however, Saffire wanted to record this farewell CD to add to the seven others in circulation since the initial eponymously titled Alligator album came out to great acclaim 19 years ago. Now the good news: they’re still as uppity as ever! As label owner Bruce Iglauer notes, the 16 songs here run the gamut from “very serious to very seriously fun.” “Bald Headed Blues,” a raucous number energetically sung by Adegbalola describing the after-effects of chemo treatment, falls into both categories. Rabson’s rollicking piano animates much of the CD, especially on her compositions. On the up-tempo “Haste Makes Waste,” Rabson breathes new life into this hoary maxim and also gets some nice help from Faye on mandolin. The gray-haired Adegbalola’s “Bald Eagle,” which references her earlier single-entendre “Silver Beaver,” is made more notable by her slide guitar. Rabson’s rendition of the classic double-entendre “Kitchen Man,” recorded 80 years ago by Bessie Smith, is a real gem, with Faye’s mandolin accompaniment a bonus.