June 3, 2010

Week 39: Allison Thrash - Solitude

(This is week 39 of my 52 Austin CD Reviews in 52 Weeks Project)
“If you look you’ll see no pieces of me to pick up / I believe in the power of loving in the hours after midnight. / What’s to savor if you don’t even sip from the cup? / How can you give if you’re holding on so tight?” – Open House

Allison Thrash
Head On Records

What’s in a name? When I first got this album in my hands I thought, what an interesting stage name for a metal/punk singer. Well, I was wrong on every level with that assumption. Allison Thrash is her ACTUAL name, and her brand of music is decidedly blues-driven. With her November 2009 release Solitude, Thrash and company serve up just under an hour of guitar-and-whiskey-soaked hardcore blues.

The musicianship on Solitude is fantastic, but what sets this album apart from others is the wonderfully unique voice of Thrash herself. It’s akin to some of the big-voiced blues women like Big Mama Thornton, Lavelle White and Nina Samone. If I had to place it alongside some Austin-based singers I’d have to say her voice has the power displayed by folks like Carolyn Wonderland and Shelley King. Thrash’s voice is raw, feminine (without being girly), and powerful.

The album kicks off with the age-old blues line “My man says he loves me” in the classic crawling blues track “Thrash and Moan.”

But she’s not the sit-there-and-take-it kind of songwriter. In fact, the track where the title of the CD came from “Gimme Some Solitude” begins by asking her man to leave her alone (“Gimme some solitude, baby / Tonight don’t come home”). She invites you to come to the party in “Open House” and wants to know “Do You Come With A Drink?” She takes a call from the devil himself in “Fight Dirty” and recounts some interesting life choices in “Rubies of Foolishness.”

The ballad “Mother” is a really heartfelt and beautiful tribute to Patricia Francis Thrash, who passed away in April 2010 after a long Alzheimer’s-type illness called Lowy Body Dementia.  “Mother, I put some of your roses in my yard / I look at them and things are a little less hard / I still wear your sweater when it gets cold / I still look at your picture when I'm losing my hold.”

The album concludes with another somber take-me-Home track,  “Lord, I’m Ready.”

Allison Thrash’s band is made up of Thrash (vocals), David Love (guitar), Jes Sproat (bass), and Jason Hurt (drums).

If you’re a fan of the blues, Solitude is for you. Catch her live to pick this album up. And you’re in luck, she’s playing an early show Friday night (7p-9p) at Rockin' Tomato on Lakecreek and 183 . Can’t make it? Check out http://www.allisonthrash.com/ for more information.

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