Blues Music Magazine

Although she now makes her home in San Francisco, Cathy Lemons’ soul is still in her native Texas. Lemons belongs on the roster of great Lone Star State singers like Lou Anne Barton and Angela Strehli. She doesn’t have Barton’s twangy drawl or the bodacious brass of Strehli, but packs a formidable punch of Texas soul and down and dirty blues. Her latest, “Black Crow” recorded at Kid Andersen’s Greasland Studios in San Jose sounds like it came out of some sawdust-floored Texas juke joint as the sun was coming up. Lemons serves up some great, greasy Texas barbeque blues with “I’m a Good Woman,” based on the melody of Slim Harpo’s “Tee Ni Nee Ni Nu” backing her sexy soulful vocals with funky, clankin’ lead guitar. She takes on a John Lee Hooker-style boogie on “Hip Check Man,” offering up boogie doctorial services to fix up the man of her desires if he’ll just come by and see about her.

By far the most interesting thing on the record is her take on James Brown’s “The Big Payback.” It takes a lot of nerve to cover such an iconic Brown funk classic, but Lemons pulls off a funk takeover. Soaring above the wah wah propelled Shaft industrial clang with Doug James' bari sax burping soulfully underneath, Lemons bastes the funk with spicy Texas soul.

The girls in Texas are used to sliding around on greasy honky tonk floors, she reveals in “Texas Shuffle.” But there’s no boot heal drag going on here; you need to move your feet pretty fast to keep up with her boogie infused shuffle on fast-forward. “The Devil Has Blue Eyes” is a low down moan about a devilish lover who has captured her soul, a stark rendering with Lemons’ sparse, lonesome guitar tolling mournfully as she howls her blues away.

There’s no lemons on here, but you’ll want to keep squeezin’ the juice outta this one for a pitcher of Lemons-aide every time you want to quench a powerful thirst for Lone Star blues, boogie, and soul.

July 2014