Gaye Adegbalola – Bitter Sweet Blues (1999)

Gaye Adegbalola - Bitter Sweet Blues (1999)
Artist: Gaye Adegbalola
Album: Bitter Sweet Blues
Label: Alligator Records
Year Of Release: 1999
Format: FLAC (tracks)
01. She Just Wants To Dance
02. Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl
03. You Don’t Have To Take It (Like I Did)
04. Big Ovaries, Baby
05. Nothing’s Changed
06. You Really Got A Hold On Me
07. The Dog Was Here First
08. Front Door Blues
09. Only One Truth
10. Prove It On Me Blues
11. Jail House Blues
12. Images
13. Nightmare
14. Let Go, Let God


Gaye Adegbalola (Ah-Deg-Ba-Lo-La) of the group Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women, has released a new solo album, “Bitter Sweet Blues.” This album is filled with emotion! Adegbalola takes the listener through a musical journey from sadness and pain to a lighter, brighter world with tenderness, laughter and hope. Adegbalola has appeared on six other recordings with the contemporary post-feminist blues trio, Saffire-The Uppity Blues Women. Adegbalola received the W.C. Handy Award for Song of the Year in 1990 with, “The Middle Age Boogie Blues.”
The album, “Bitter Sweet Blues” opens with a swingin’ Keb’ Mo’-Georgina Graper tune, “She Just Wants To Dance.” Pianist Warren Bernhardt then slides into a Bessie Smith classic, “Need A Little Sugar In My Bowl” (C. Williams, T. Brymn & D. Small.) This delightful, easy-listening melody compliments the light-hearted lyrics, filled with sexual innuendo. Adegbalola also shines with her own fun, upbeat tune, “Big Ovaries, Baby!” She belts out the words: “I got big ovaries, baby….big enough to speak my mind… I’ll fight for my rights, cuz, bitch is my middle name!”

Adegbalola uses humor in some of her lyrics and stunning raw truth in others. Her song, “You Don’t Have To Take It (Like I Did)” and “Nothing’s Changed” (Adegbalola & R. Block) both have serious messages. She sings with power and passion, stirring up a less-than-comfortable awareness. Adegbalola pushes boundaries with her music. Her collaboration with Rory Block produced a stunning piece of music, entitled “Nightmare,” which deals with the subject of incest. Some listeners are bound to feel uncomfortable with such revealing lyrics–others will find the song sad, but moving. Bessie Smith’s, “Jail House Blues” is such a powerful rendition, Adegbalola’s pleading vocals, combined with the haunting percussion arrangement, strike a disturbing chord. Again…it’s powerful, commanding music.

This album concludes with a memorable, “Let Go, Let God” (Adegbalola.) The great finger-pickin’ acoustic guitar compliments the lyrics:

“I am listenin’, but I cannot hear
I am hurtin’, but I can’t shed a tear
Oh, I am numb, I’m numb and cold
please take it off me–save my soul.
I need to let go, I need to let God…
make me whole again.”

Gaye Adegbalola’s new CD, “Bitter Sweet Blues” is a powerful collection of music. Her songs provoke emotion and are delivered with some great tongue-in-cheek humor! There’s also a great re-make of Smokey Robinson’s, “You Really Got A Hold On Me!” Whether she’s belting out Bessie Smith tunes, rocking out like Tina Turner, or singing smooth, sultry vocals, Adegbalola delivers a strong, memorable set of blues with the album, “Bitter Sweet Blues.”
by Lisa Gault

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