Tullie Brae – Revelation

“The multi-talented Ms. Brae embodies the best of the generation of young blues artists. You’ll hear tinges of Ruthie Foster, Howlin’ Wolf and Janis Joplin – all deftly melded with cutting edge, risk taking, powerful sounds – uniquely her own.” Tom Wilmer, NPR

Tullie Brae, Revelation, Endless Blues Records

Tulli Brae is, indeed, a revelation. In one of the most enjoyable blues albums I’ve heard this year, she gives us ten original, well-crafted and hugely enjoyable songs, full of energy and emotion. When the last song had played out, I immediately began to listen again. It’s that kind of album, that kind of music.

This is blues rock, delivered with a huge amount of soul and underpinned by Tullie’s gospel roots. She grew up singing in her father’s Louisiana church, becoming a multi-instrumentalist and choir director, before touring professionally with gospel group. All of which has made her the dynamic performing artist she now is.

The song arrangements are all varied and strong, delivered by a stellar cast of musicians recruited by Mick Kolassa (Michissippi Mick), augmenting Brae’s own formidable Hammond, keyboard and guitar work. It kicks off with the hard-rocking, gritty Price of the Blues about domestic violence, where you are immediately arrested by the range, versatility and power of Brae’s vocals. Seven Bridges is a bluesy, swampy gospel number, with a heady gumbo mixture of a backing choir, some haunting slide guitar, and talk of a soul being washed, muddy water, the bayou, and an old-time revival. Delicious.

We get another gospel-related song later on, Devil in Deville, about a battle between a country preacher and the devil, brilliantly driven by Brad Webb’s slide guitar and Tullie Brae’s compelling singing.

Probably my favourite track is Mississippi Rain, which, for me, had a certain Gary Moore quality about it. One of those songs which reaches right inside you and pulls at your insides. Brae’s sultry vocals and the tasteful, emotion-laden guitar work are the epitome of slow, late-night blues.

Blues it may be, but there’s a wonderful upbeat vibe about the whole album, not least in songs like New Shoes, celebrating friendship; Shine, a cheery number with a lovely 70s feel about it (“let your light shine…hold your head up high”); and Watch Her Move, celebrating the strength of women, even in the face of adversity. The album finishes with a lovely tribute from Brae to her mother, Thank You Mom.

Tullie Brae’s Revelation really is that. She’s a fabulous talent, an accomplished songwriter, singer and instrumentalist. If she can keep on producing albums of this quality, we’ll look forward to hearing a lot more from Tullie Brae.