Young Woman Blues

Beki Brindle

‘All Kinds Of Beki’ admirably lives up to its name. It’s a wide-ranging showcase for a singer-songwriter and session guitarist who has built her reputation by playing with some of the biggest names in contemporary blues and roots rock music.

Beki Brindle is a tasteful guitarist, a thoughtful songwriter and an engaging vocalist who on the evidence of this album is only a couple of stellar guitar solos short of making a significant dent on the contemporary blues scene.

She seems content with an understated style and plenty of stylistic diversity to draw the listener in and always keeps us wanting more. And while ‘All Kinds Of Beki’ is essentially a blues album, it also explores swampy blues, boogie, country rock and on the closing track ‘God’s Guitar’, emotive Americana.

She’s joined by some notable guests including The Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian, The Zombies’ bassist Chris White and fellow New York Blues Hall Of Fame inductee, and long time Johnny Winter drummer Vito Luizzi.

The respective guests bring different colours and textures to an album full of excellent songs that are stamped through with her own personality, even if she’s reticent at times to step out into the spotlight as a guitarist.

Perhaps the missing piece in the jigsaw is a bigger production, which would help shape some great ideas into something memorable.

Beki’s heartfelt narratives and salient hooks are glued together by a bluesy undertow that is only fully revealed on the splendid ‘Unforgiven’. The track like the album as a whole, is full of nuanced dynamics, slick chord changes and fluid guitar parts.

She builds up a cool dynamic over Peter Levin’s B3 and choral BVs, before illuminating the track with some fleeting J.J. Cale style guitar tones, though she gives precedence to Levin’s B3 solo rather than her own defining guitar solo.

Unlike so many of her contemporaries, she seems content with the less is more approach. At times this works really well as her brief solos make their impact, but at other times her well-crafted material cries out for just a tad more guitar.

Perhaps she reveals her hand too early, as on the opening ‘Young Woman’s Blues’, which is both a polished and very poignant groove with the kind of understated fluidity so beloved by Bonnie Raitt.

The track acts as a portal to tasteful album built on a wide variety of material that is never less than classy. But sometimes she seems to hold back in the hope that the smooth approach will bring her wider commercial appeal.

No matter, ‘All Kinds of Beki’ still has several memorable moments, from the Knopfler style lightness of touch on John Mayall’s ‘Possessive Emotions’ to the slide-led boogie and full band workout of ‘New Shoelaces’.

Then there’s the New Orleans feel of the piano-led and B3 inflected ‘No More Return Blues’, which features a confessional vocal from Beki, Joe Giggs on BVs and her own wah-wah solo.

She does rock out on the humorous ‘Nothing To Wear’, only to subsume her real abilities to the song’s arrangement.

Some thoughtful sequencing redresses the balance, particularly on the juxtaposed filmic twang of ‘Johnny Never’ which gives the song real presence. Special guest John Sebastian adds deep earthy toned harp on his own love-struck ballad ‘Darling Be Home Soon’, as Beki moves from a tremulous emotive reading to an enveloping wall of sound.

She comes full circle on the swampy relationship song ‘It’s Over’ and explores a clean toned guitar intro on the Latino ‘Could I Be The Woman’. She actually eclipses Sebastian’s harp work with the kind of memorable guitar squalls that she uses all too sparingly.

‘All Kind of Beki is the perfect primer for those unfamiliar with a significant blues guitarist of our time. Can’t wait for the tour.  ****

Review by Pete Feenstra