I'd never heard of Gracie Curran, but Vizztone founder Richard Rosenblatt sent out a video that first, before I clicked on it, seemed amusing as hell, Gracie appearing nothing so much as a woman you'd catch in the kitchen in The Sopranos or the Godfather series, making spahetti and canoli for the Mob. However, when I fired up the vid…HOLY CHRIST! No wonder Rich was knocked head over heels by her. What a voice! A complete natural, something not easily found, Gracie takes command of not just the band, not just the stage, but the whole house right from the minute she starts in, sheer confidence and talent oozing out seductively. Here's that vid, so's ya knows what I'm talkin' about:
Of course, as you just glommed, this particular gig featured another Vizztone powerhouse, Peter Parcek, tearing it up on guitar—though, as you'll find once you lay an ear to the Proof of Love CD, Tom Carroll, the band's mainman axehandler, can stand right beside him, ferocious when the dogs are let loose (and especially in live gigs), graceful in balladry, and ever blue. Gracie, however, deftly slides right into pure soul with enviable fluidity—and I'm not speaking of the blue-eyed variety a la Phil Collins but 100% straight from the bone marrow SOUL. The horns in the session boost that element tremendously; Take You with Me a prime example.
Speaking of Rosenblatt, I don't know if readers are aware, but he has long-term street cred not just as a properly bohemian label exec in several successful enterprises but also as a respected harp player, having resided in the Billy Colwell Band (previously the Colwell-Winfield Band, a rather prized single LP issuing thencefrom but sans Rosenblatt's presence), T. Blade & the Esquires, and others while recording with Sunnyland Slim and performing with John Lee Hooker, Otis Rush, Hubert Sumlin and a host of others. He plays here as well, on Been All Over, and then engineered, mixed, and co-produced the release. I suspect he also had a hand in the arrangements 'cause the ambience of the entire CD is smokily letter perfect and 70s down 'n dirty.
I often mention past-days blues chanteuses like Marge Raymond (Flame), Maggie Bell (Stone the Crows, Midnight Flyer), and Genya Ravan (Ten Wheel Drive) because they had unique presences, especially in those days, but never quite leapt over the barricades, gooo-ooo-oood but not among the great, and few female singers are treading their path (you can include Bonnie Bramlett as another sister in the genre), but Gracie Curran might just be the one to revive that small almost lost slice if damnably infernal exposure venues turn the right way and give her a break. God knows she deserves it, and God knows the crits are already lining up and lauding her in line with Bonnie Raitt and Susan Tedeschi, but the devil's in the details, so let me add one more thing: after four years of playing to packed houses all over the country, this is their debut release, though you won't believe me when you hear it.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.