Dalannah Gail Bowen
Mamma's Got the Blues (Quest/Festival)
Mamma's Got the Blues boasts some cleanly recorded originals, including the slinky title cut and a couple of nifty covers, most notably a cool-shuffle rethink of Jimi Hendrix's "Up From the Skies", which demonstrates how well local veteran Gail Bowen handles the jazzier end of the blues.
Speaking of stalwarts, the record, which sounds both timeless and contemporary (even if the cover looks homemade), was produced and arranged by Bowen alongside Stratocaster master Harris Van Berkel, backed by his usual fun-loving criminals: Michael Creber on keyboards, Brian Newcombe on bass and drums, Jim Salmon on percussion, and saxophonist David Say. Jane Mortifee and Linda Kidder provide backup vocals on a few tracks.
Toward the end, everyone leaves the studio for five live cuts caught by the CBC. What's lost in sonic sheen (not a lot) on songs like an exultant "Unchain My Heart" and a near-definitive "Born Under a Bad Sign" is made up for in hard-to-capture energy and excitement. Throughout, the players don't deliver anything you couldn't hear them do at the Yale, which is fine, as they'll be there from December 18 to 20 for this year's Blues for Christmas, Bowen's annual food-bank benefit.