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Review of ‘One Guitar Woman’ by Sue Foley

VARESE, 22 maggio 2024- author GIANNI BERALDO-

After the remarkable adrenaline bomb of Live in Austin Vol.1 recently released, the extraordinary Canadian (but Texan by musical adoption) singer-guitarist Sue Foley surprisingly releases an extraordinary acoustic album entitled One Guitar Woman where the crystalline class of the Austin blueswoman emerges in all the grandeur and a pinch of eclecticism
One Guitar Woman is a tribute to the pioneering women of the guitar, the same ones who influenced Sue’s artistic path in a tangible and indelible way: “Their lives, their stories, their stubbornness and skill, made me reflect and understand more the meaning of life and then also drawing inspiration from it on a musical level”, so Sue confessed to us during the my interview that you find in the musical magazine of Buscadero.

The album pays homage to guitar icons such as Elizabeth Cotten, Memphis Minnie, Sister Rosetta Tharpe, the French classical guitarist Ida Presti, the southern blues women Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas, but also Tejano Lydia Mendoza, Charo and could not be missed country music matriarch Maybelle Carter.
A musical journey through the roots of the history of the blues, but the female one, told by Foley with the use of only the acoustic guitar, without a band and without frills, passing with ease from flamenco ballads, to country, to the fingerpicking technique (obviously in these cases with guitars suitable for the purpose), for an overview of class and refined technique that makes it unique in the entire musical panorama.
Just as unique is that particular voice that does justice to the unforgettable original versions.
One Guitar Woman is an excellent recording (produced by Mick Flanigin), certainly among the best things released so far in an absolute sense.
Album that leaves you stunned from the first piece, Oh babe it ain’t no lie’ by Elizabeth Cotten, with a breathtaking arpeggio (using the Piedmont finkerpiking style) and with that crazy tone of voice, capable of modulating the tones becoming all ‘one with that flood of sweet notes that you wish the song would never end.
Pure acoustic blues in the subsequent In my girlish days by Memphis Minnie, four minutes of pure musical enjoyment that makes us understand how Sue has the blues flowing in her veins, with acoustic solos with the strings still vibrating. And then again that voice, so appropriately drawled but at the same time able to best articulate the text which tells hard stories but made less tiring by blues music.
Few frills and a lot of class and technique also in the country blues Lonesome Homesick blues by Maybelle Carter played with mastery using the flatpicking style.
With Mal Hombre by Lydia Mendoza changes the rhythm and guitar. Here a sad story is told with Spanish accents supported by a soundtrack always in a Hispanic style. This is also very beautiful.
We return to country blues with the famous Motherless Child blues by Elvie Thomas, continuing this journey through the history of female blues with the iconic and beautiful Romance in A minor by Ida Presti, an artist born in France at the beginning of the last century nicknamed ‘Ida Prestissimo’ even by maestro Andres Segovia. And here Sue Foley shows off, if still needed, her skills on the classical guitar too, always with that mastery and lightness that makes her special.

Among the peaks of the album is certainly the song My Journey to the sky by Sister Rosetta Thorpe (one of Foley’s favorite artists), a slow song that recalls the beauty of life with Sue’s voice which still gives many emotions without imitating the original.
Next come the pieces Ain’t nothing in rambling, by Memphis Minnie and Maybelle’s guitar by Carter, two country blues that are quite similar in metric but which are not tiring at all. Just as Elizabeth Cotten’s version of Freight Train is also notable.
Still a lot of vintage acoustic blues (and what a vintage!) with Last kind words blues (Thomas) where Sue exalts herself by ‘mistreating’ the strings supported by the voice which in this case must dominate the music.
Album that ends with the incredible flamenco instrumental piece entitled La Malaguegna di Charro, where the Texan guitarist gives another and inimitable pearl of skill.

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