ALLY VENABLE BAND – No Glass Shoes
2016 / Connor Ray Music
Review written by Marc Tucker - 08/01/2016
Okay, so Europe’s got Ana Popovic – and Sweet Lord God Jesus Joseph and Mary, can that woman PLAY! – but we here in the good ol’ USA now have a very surprising wrinkle in Ally Venable, all of 17 years old and fronting a hard blues band that thunders and struts right off the starting blocks. Popovic’s a singer/player formidable to the Nth degree (when you can get 3-1/2 million YouTube views for a 3-1/2 minute song, you’re definitely doing something way right), but Venable just might start putting a sweat on her in this, her debut, ‘cause Ally’s a dynamically solid singer and a shockingly discerning lead axeslinger. By way of pipes, she reminds me of a Maggie Bell (Stone the Crows, solo) or Marge Raymond (Flame) who outdid themselves. At just under 18 winters, Ms. Venable sounds like a road vet of decades of dusty, roiling, hard scrabble experience.
Then there are the atmospherics of Bobby Wallace and his gutsy organ backing up the thundering Elijah Owens (drums) and blood-thick Zach Terry (bass). Popovic looks like a model off the runway (or, um, outta Penthouse magazine) where Venable could’ve been in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but the two step outside their physiognomies to forward the work of both the great black blues singers (Etta, Alberta Hunter, etc.) and the pan-racial players in post-Chicago bluesrock. Ana may be more seasoned, but Ally definitely has an unquenchable fire in her belly flanking the sort of brash devil-may-care heedlessness the young greatly benefit by, a attitude saying “Fuck it, I don’t, care, I’m going for it, and good luck to anyone who gets in my damn way!”. She then reaches for the sky…and gets there.
I mean, how else do you account for such a hard-won sound, not only in her but in the professionality of the ensemble in whole as well? AVB’s timbre is solid 70s, and the band could easily have shared stages with Savoy Brown, Chickenshack, Ten Years After, Smith (Gayle MacCormick’s old gig), appearing at the Fillmores, the old Whiskey A Go Go, and etc. The cover photo to his CD’s a bit Cinderella goofy (my guess? no money for good art direction) and doesn’t convey the powerful work beneath it, so if, on that basis, you might think this band’s just another of the billion extent, think again.
Ms. Venable bears close attention ‘cause, given No Glass Shoes, she’s going to be THE woman to make Joan Jett, Lita Ford, and the rest of the gender get serious, the one players like Leni Stern and Mimi Fox will be regarding admiringly through the years as a contender to the throne. From the opening riff of “Trainwreck” to the take on the classic “Messin’ with the Kid”, one of Rory Gllagher’s all-time fave ditties, to the slo-burn and heat of “Love Me like a Man”, you’ll know you’ve been down to the crossroads once this collection of eight cuts winds down. Hopefully, before you’re able to catch your breath, another album will be following hard on its heels.
Ally Venable Band's Official Website
Ally Venable Band'S Official YouTube