One of the toughest, most talented female singer-songwriter-guitar slingers on the contemporary blues scene today is Debbie Davies. On Love the Game the former sidewoman to John Mayall and Albert Collins spices up her collection of insightful, slice-of-life stories (some of which were penned by her longtime bandmate Don Castagno) with stinging licks and down-home soul. Produced by the wily blues vet Duke Robillard, Debbie’s seventh overall and third for Shanachie features special guest appearances from guitarist Jay Geils, pianist Bruce Katz, saxophonists Doug James and Gordon Beadle and longtime guitar colleague Coco Montoya, who lays out some ferocious licks alongside Davies and Robillard on the aptly named three-way shuffle jam “Fired Up.” Debbie’s autobiographical words on “Can’t Live Like This No More” hit home to anyone over “a certain age,” while the feelings of futility she sings about on her melancholy slow blues “Down in the Trenches” would register with anyone who has ever felt love slip away. Castango offers a sly sense of earthy humor on “Worst Kinda Man,” “Keep Your Sins to Yourself” and the album’s lone acoustic number, “Was Ya Blue”.
The third in the Glass’ trilogy of operas about men who changed the world in which they lived through the power of their ideas, “Akhnaten”‘s subject is religion. The Pharaoh Akhnaten was the first monotheist in recorded story, and his substitution of a one-god religion for the multi-god worship in use when he came to power was responsible for his violent overthrow. The opera describes the rise, reign, and fall of Akhnaten in a series of tableaus. Libretto (Egyptian, Arcadian, Hebrew, and language of the audience) by the composer in association with Shalom Goldman, Robert Israel and Richard Riddell. Vocal text drawn from original sources by Shalom Goldman.