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Blame Sally are a quartet of singer-songwriters from San Francisco whose girl band side project has been steadily gathering a head of steam over the dozen years of their collaboration, resulting in a recent lucrative record deal and, this autumn, their first visit as a band to the UK. A rock band with folk/acoustic leanings, they cover a fair amount of musical ground with songs like Bird in Hand and Orange at the gently (and beautifully) acoustic end of their spectrum, and rousing, danceable rock numbers like Living Without You at the noisier end. This latter song sounds pretty much like Roxette to me and I guess Blame Sally’s chameleon qualities have precluded them having a strong identity of their own, to my ears at least. On this live album they cover Fleetwood Mac’s Never Going Back Again, a song which fits them like a glove and maybe epitomises that dual folk/rock sound that is their natural metier. It’s a really good version of the song, and perhaps it’s telling that it neither subtracts from, nor adds to, memories of the original.
Live at KVIE Studios was recorded last winter as part of a fundraising effort for the Public Broadcasting Service and half of this set is lifted from their most recent studio album, Speeding Ticket and a Valentine. The four women (Pam Delgado, Renee Harcourt, Jeri Jones and Monica Pasqual) are joined by their regular bassist, Rob Strom. Collectively they’re as tight as you could hope a rock band to be and with the lead vocals swapped around a bit, there is plenty of variation in the sound to enjoy. The women give strong support to each other on backing vocals and, most of all, they play with a relish and enjoyment that is infectious and inclusive. They close the album with a cover of Chain of Fools, which takes them outside their natural territory, I think. It doesn’t sound properly worked out to me and certainly doesn’t compare well with the widescreen grandeur of Big, Big Bed or the light touch that they bring to Bird in Hand. For the most part, though, these gals are hugely entertaining – value for money, as one of my friends’ highest compliments would have it.
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