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[Marcia Ball] Tattooed Lady & the Alligator Man


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Performer Notes
  • Austin-based pianist and singer Marcia Ball began her solo career in earnest with the 1984 album Soulful Dress, and 30 years later, she's still pounding out the blues and boogie on The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man. The biggest challenge of a career that's been chugging along for more than three decades is keeping things fresh, and while The Tattooed Lady doesn't blaze many new trails, the album proves Ball's mojo is still working as a songwriter and a piano player, and she clearly hasn't run out of things to say. Ball knows how to get the good times rolling on tunes like "Like There's No Tomorrow," and can spin a tall tale on the rollicking title cut, but she can turn serious when she feels like it, particularly on the recession story "The Squeeze Is On" and the closing tale of love gone wrong, "The Last to Know." Ball hasn't lost her knack for melodies that fuse the spark of Texas blues with the steady roll of New Orleans R&B, and her keyboard work is as sure-footed as ever, offering her own signature take on the boogie that should fill your personal dancefloor in short order. Ball's backing band is in fine form as well, especially guitarist Michael Schermer (who also helped write two songs) and saxman Thad Scott, and they get some help from Terrance Simien, who plays accordion on "The Squeeze Is On," and Delbert McClinton, who lends a harmonica solo to "Can't Blame Nobody But Myself." If Ball's voice is starting to show a bit of wear around the edges, her phrasing is as good as ever, and the confidence and drive of these performances is infectious. There's no stopping Marcia Ball, and The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man confirms that's good news for blues fans and piano aficionados; this is the work of a veteran whose skills are genuinely on point. ~ Mark Deming
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