Debbie Davies Key to Love: A Celebration of the Music of John Mayall

Debbie Davies is a serious student of the blues and this disc is a loving tribute to a beloved mentor, having learned her first lessons from playing her Bluesbreaker records over and over. Developing her own style, one of her first gigs was in an all-female R&B band, Maggie Mayall and the Cadillacs. Maggie’s husband John soon fed Davies’ blues hunger with tapes from his sizeable collection while offering her advice. This is payback, and a testament to her appreciation. Davies lifts Mayall’s music to new heights, injecting her obvious passion for the material. Her vocals are surprisingly appropriate while her proficiency on the Strat repays her debt to Mayall’s catalogue. Colourful guests including Peter Green and Mick Taylor — graduates of the Mayall school of musical discovery — join with James Cotton (adding magic to Mayall’s distinctive harmonica parts) as they tear through classics including "Chicago Line,” "Room To Move” and "Hard Road.” Highlights include Taylor’s lead role on "Hard Road” and Green’s harp and solo guitar on "Nature’s Disappearing,” but it is Davies’ enthusiasm for the project that breathes new life into Mayall’s music. Her "Dream About The Blues” tells the whole story, featuring some of the most devastating slide guitar to be heard this side of anywhere as her voice bears out the pain of the lyric. Davies has done much more than pay loving tribute to this deserving blues pioneer in this release by exposing his music to a new generation. (Shanachie)