The raw sound of Alberta Adams’ voice will tell you pretty much everything you need to know about the blues. But what really makes the woman special is her ability to tell the kind of stories that so many people can relate to and appreciate. On “Everybody Got Their Hand Out,” the eighth track on Adams’ second full-length release under her own name, she exhibits this talent at its best.
“I been free-hearted all my life, but I’m tired. I’m tired.” It’s one very telling line. A line that essentially works as an extended monologue, describing her I’ve-had-it-up-to-here frustration with the type of folks who won’t speak to you one day, but then ask you to let them hang their clothes in your closet the next because “I ain’t got nowhere to stay.”
On “Nothing More to Say,” her duet with fellow Detroit blues veteran Johnnie Bassett about an exhausted relationship, anyone who has been there and lived to tell the tale can feel her pain. The one other cut that really grabbed me was the Johnny “Guitar” Watson-sounding number, “I Want a Man,” written by Detroit’s own Bill Heid.
Still, Say Baby Say doesn’t seem to have quite the same warm feel or the potent groove ingredient of her debut album, Born With the Blues. The songs are well written, the band tight and well rehearsed and Alberta’s voice delivers as always … but something is missing.
Keith A. Owens is a Detroit-based freelance writer and musician. E-mail him at [email protected].