Sue Foley’s The Ice Queen is, like her, the essence of the blues
(Los Angeles) With twelve tracks, many featuring guests like Charlie Sexton, Jimmie Vaughn or Billie F. Gibbons, Sue Foley’s forthcoming album, The Ice Queen, is an indulgent treat for blues fans, jazz heads, and rock lovers alike. Foley has stretched her familiar sexy, belt-it-out blues voice to reach emotional and tonal levels in this album we have never heard before, matched as always with her mighty guitar chops.
Foley gets right into it in the kickoff song, “Come to Me,” with Charlie Sexton on slide guitar and vocals, underscoring the sharp curl in her voice as she grabs your stomach muscles with the hook “Come to me my darling/come to me my love“ and then hits with you stunning guitar solos. Sexton stays with her on the next song, along with Mike Flannigan on the B3, as she slows things down on “81,” giving you a bit of beak, but keeping a tight grip on your gut.
The energy then ramps up in a stripped down, percussion-driven “Run” with Johnny Bradly on the upright bass and George Rains on the drum kit. “Run” is a perfect set up for the title track, also stripped down but with Billy Horton on the upright bass. “The Ice Queen” track is every blues fan’s dream –a slow drum, a voice so sharp it hurts, and wrenching guitar riffs.
She sings “Old man winter may have put a lock on my heart,” but the notes that come with the lyrics are white hot. Put this one on repeat.
Jimmie Vaughan joins her in a rocking blues song “The Lucky Ones,” driven by Rains on the kit and Flanigin on the B3. In the more traditional feeling “Gaslight” she keep the energy going but drops her voice down on the lyrics and adds brightness with Ephram Owens on the trumpet and Elias Hasling on the tenor sax.
Billy F. Gibbons and Foley trade off on on the vocals on “Fool’s Gold,” while he adds harmonica supported by the B3, a perfect setup for the full on, full band song “If I Have Forsaken You” that follows. Foley’s voice smolders as her vocals weave through a dark forest created by Jimmie Vaughan on the guitar and Flannigan on the B3, plus upright bass, drums, trumpets, saxes, and trombones. Bessie Smith’s “Send Me to the ‘Lectric Chair” follows and in Foley’s hands is brought up-tempo without losing any of the soul of the original. She cools things off with the jazz-inflected, melancholy “Death of a Dream,” which showcases Foley’s virtuoso talent in both melodic guitar and deeply feminine vocals. Another one to put on repeat.
Foley has always been fascinated by classical Spanish guitar and flamenco, so she studied it and included the results of that effort in “The Dance,” a dusky journey through amore and Spanish guitar. While avoiding flamenco fireworks, “The Dance” amply shows off her acoustic skill and more importantly, how she can spoon her voice around the guitar notes of Spain.
The album wraps up with the Carter Family’s 1936 “Cannonball Blues” with Sue recording alone and filling the song with melodic guitar chords and her best story-telling voice.
Sue has toured the world and with her signature pink paisley Fender Telecaster, and starting in March will tour through Canada with a jaunt to Switzerland. I certainly hope she can make it out to the west coast soon because the only thing better than hearing The Ice Queen in my headphones would be hearing it live.
Sue Foley, http://suefoley.com/
The Ice Queen, available March 2, 2018, can be pre-ordered on iTunes. https://apple.co/2ExtUFM