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Let’s make this clear: The appearance of a solo recording by Ann Rabson does not mean the end of Saffire—the Uppity Blues Women. Rather, this side project provides Rabson with a session-leader’s opportunity to showcase her formidable skills as a blues vocalist, guitarist, and pianist, and with stunning results. The key to the album’s success is its presentation of a wide range of blues styles and moods, made possible by the assistance of Cephas and Wiggins, Bob Margolin, Greg Piccolo, Jeff Sarli, Big Joe Maher, and Ann’s sister Mimi (of the Klezmer Conservatory Band). These guests’ instrumental support provides a completely different musical setting from Saffire’s acoustic trio format, and the most notable difference is the appearance of drums, electric guitar, and tenor sax on a number of cuts. The album opens full-throttle with a New Orleans R&B-inflected cover of Huey Smith’s “Baby, Every Once in a While” featuring Margolin, Piccolo, Sarli, and Maher. The album shifts gears for a brilliant collaboration with Cephas and Wiggins, “Givin’ It Away,” and Mimi’s haunting violin accompanies Ann’s piano on “Another You.” Ann also presents staples from her pre-Saffire repertoire as a solo guitarist/vocalist, including Roosevelt Sykes’ “Skin and Bones” and a song associated with Bessie Smith, “He’s Got Me Going.” And fans of the Uppity Blues Women will be familiar with two of Rabson’s originals, “Serial Love” and the album’s title track, which have been—and should continue to be—featured in Saffire’s live appearances.

—Matt Watson