‘Blazing’ – Mean Mary - impossible to ignore(May 23, 2018)
Words like visceral, inimitable and distinctive are often applied without due thought or relevance – not so when you’re talking about the powerful vocals and blistering banjo fingerwork of Mean Mary (aka Mary James). Her album ‘Blazing’ exhibits everything that has made this lady famous – a superbly delivered blend of roots, bluegrass, folk and rock that taken as a whole produces an edge of the seat musical rush it’s impossible to ignore – and why would you want to because ‘Blazing’ is so hot it’s a wonder the CD doesn’t smoulder.
The album arrives with the enough smoke and sparks to impress an old-time locomotive, opening with ‘Harlequin’, the intricate instrumental ‘Rainy’, ahead of the ripping ‘Lights, Gun, Action’ and from there into ‘Sugar Mountain Rush’ before the shuddering step change of ‘Rock of Ages’ reinforces the soulful quality and vocal depth on offer. After taking you into the folk inflected rock of ‘La La Hoopla La’, the instrumental emphasis returns with ‘Blazing’ before you’re into the moody, sultry ‘Gone’ and the soul-touching ‘Hell Is Naked’.
‘Blazing’ is brought to you by Mary James (vocal, banjo, six-string banjo, guitar, electric guitar, violin, castanets) with the talents on various tracks of Jim Brown (bass) Tom Storch (drums, percussion) David Larsen (bass) Frank James (12-string guitar, vocals, stomp) and Allen Marshall (drums).
Review: Tom Franks