Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Gay Marshall Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night Album Review


This CD review was originally published in the April 18, 2013 edition of Blues Blast Magazine. Be sure to check out the rest of the magazine at thebluesblast.com

Gay Marshall – Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night

Self Release


Record Company Web Site

15 tracks / 56:22

Most musicians have other artists that inspire them, and Gay Marshall is no exception. But listeners of her latest album may be surprised that the reason she got into music was the songs of Edith Piaf, the legendary French singer that performed ballads and café songs in the 1940s and 1950s.

Music was not the path that Gay originally headed down, though. As a Midwestern child she yearned to be an actress, so after attending the Interlochen Art Academy for secondary school she was off to study theatre in England. After discovering Piaf, she studied her music and began to perform it in coffee shops, eventually augmenting her repertoire with show tunes, jazz and Dixieland blues. Along the way she wrote a few one-woman shows, participated in gobs of musical theatre, and recorded a CD of Edith Piaf tunes.

On her latest CD, Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night, Marshall shares classic blues tunes from the 1920s and 1930s. These songs were originally recorded by legends such as Ethel Waters (another of Gay’s inspirations), and Sidney Easton. These are other people’s songs with some new lyrics added here and there, but they still maintain the intent of the original versions. She is joined on this album by Roy King on drums, Mike Sands on piano, Martin Block on bass, Tony Koussa on saxophone and Bruce Lehtinen on trombone.

Gay Marshall’s positive spirit shines through in all of her work, and this album is no exception. The fifteen tracks were carefully chosen so that all of these vintage songs have this same upbeat attitude. From the first track, “Brother You Got me Wrong,” you will hear that she is not going for a modern take on these songs. She has affected a 1920s singing style and the band has a gloriously acoustic sound. The score is well-arranged and Sands’ melodic piano work is the proper counterpoint to the vocal line.

The title track is a fine Ethel Waters mid-tempo blues tune that would be at home in any vaudeville revue. Like the rest of the album this one has neat horn parts and fine piano playing, but the stand-out performance on this song has to be Block who thumps out surprisingly complicated lines on his upright bass.

My favorite track on this disc is Joe “King” Oliver’s “West End Blues,” which gives everybody in the band a chance to shine. This leisurely 12-bar blues song lets Marshall cut loose, and she can really belt out her part. Koussa takes the intro and also plays a solo with his killer saxophone tone, and Lehtinen is given the opportunity to work a muted trombone solo in. But what is really cool about this tune is how well the band works as a group to put out a seamless piece of music.

The album ends up with Sippie Wallace’s “You Gotta Know How” and Marshall once again uses her playful vocal style to match the clever lyrics. Koussa weaves his sax in and out of the verses as Sands hammers out a honky-tonk piano part to help keep the beat with King’s drums. This was a great song to finish up with, as it is a fun and upbeat piece.

Go Back Where You Stayed Last Night is a neat piece of work, and an enlightening snapshot of what was going on in the musical world during the years between the wars. Thanks to fine vocals and the prowess off the band everything comes together well for this project. The album cover advertises this as foot-stompin’, hand-clappin’, good time blues” and Gay Marshall certainly delivers the goods.


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