Living Blues - 7-8/01, pp.68-9
"...Her blend of Texas blues, New Orleans R&B, and Louisiana swamp pop has seldom been more self-assured..."
Personnel: Marcia Ball (vocals, piano); Delbert McClinton (vocals); Casper Rawls (acoustic guitar); Pat Boyack, Derek O'Brien, C.C. Adcock (guitar); Sonny Landreth (slide guitar); Gary Primich (harmonica); Pat Breaux (accordion, tenor saxophone); Paul Klemperer, Brad Andrew, Dan Torosian (tenor saxophone); Mark Kazanoff (baritone saxophone); Wayne Jackson (trumpet); Riley Osbourn (Hammond B-3 organ); Don Bennett (bass, background vocals); Roscoe Beck (bass); Doyle Bramhall (drums, background vocals); Keith Robinson, Chris Hunter (drums); Suzanne Abbott, Bonnie Bishop, Kristin Dewitt, Debbie Gardner (background vocals).
Recorded at Arlyn Studios, Texas.
Personnel: Marcia Ball (vocals, piano); Derek O'Brien, Pat Boyack (guitar); Casper Rawls (acoustic guitar); Sonny Landreth (slide guitar); Gary Primich (harmonica); Pat Breaux (accordion, tenor saxophone); Brad Andrew, Dan Torosian, Paul Klemperer (tenor saxophone); Mark "Kaz" Kazanoff (baritone saxophone); Wayne Jackson, Gary Slechta (trumpet); Doyle Bramhall, Keith Robinson (drums, background vocals); Chris Hunter (drums); Susan Abbott, Don Bennett , Bonnie Bishop (background vocals).
Audio Mixer: Jared Tuten.
Recording information: Arlyn Studios, Austin, TX.
Photographer: Johnny Medina.
Those looking for blues, R&B, rootsy rock & roll, gospel-tinged ballads, loungy supper club jazz, and boogie-woogie piano pounding all led by an instantly recognizable powerhouse voice infused with gritty soul will rejoice with Marcia Ball. Although this is only her sixth album since her career shifted into high gear with 1984's Soulful Dress, Ball hits all those bases and more on her debut for Alligator. She's as comfortable with heart-wrenching lost-love songs like this album's touching "Let the Tears Roll Down" as with loose-limbed swampy piano/accordion-powered rockers such as "Louella." Her show-stopping piano virtuosity takes a back seat for the majority of this release, as Ball turns up the tough R&B heat on a cover of "Fly on the Wall" with guests Sonny Landreth on slide guitar and backing singers right out of Aretha Franklin's '60s heyday. Horns also play a large part, underpinning the Bobby "Blue" Bland-styled Crescent City soul-blues and rolling Fats Domino piano of Don Covay's "I'm Coming Down With the Blues." The opening "Scene of the Crime," powered by Gary Primich's plucky harmonica, is one of Ball's best tracks, with a snappy melody, gutsy singing, and Southern-fried R&B attack. Allen Toussaint's "You Make It Hard" finds fellow Texan Delbert McClinton on duet vocals highlighting the track's urging slow groove. Classy and subdued yet bubbling with passion, emotion, and a love of Southern-style music that explodes out of every track, with Presumed Innocent Marcia Ball has released what is arguably the finest and most inspired album of her career. ~ Hal Horowitz