Kristi Johnston Band That Would Be Fine

As a country, we're not known for growing our own blues stars. But from the wilds of Winnipeg comes this sultry contender for the female blues crown, and only at the ripe old age of 28. And if Bonnie Raitt paved the way for gender-free blues credibility, Kristi can add further proof to the pudding. Turned on by the raw emotion that drives the blues, she's applied herself in short order and, with this second release, parallels fellow Canadian Sue Foley, but suggests a closer alignment to the rock-based Texas blues of Stevie Ray Vaughan. She's young and a little rough around the edges, but she packs a sinewy, sensuous sound - from her lazy drawl to her gut-bucket leads. That Would Be Fine boasts some stellar tracks: the instrumental jam "The Moose Is Loose" confirms the band's playing prowess. "Guilty" provides Johnston with a vehicle to get torch-y with her teasing voice, plus samples her ability to send up a scorching solo when required to underline her obvious passion. There's something about her. She's got something inside that's burning to get out and That Would Be Fine is a sensational start from someone who's only been grinding out blues for less than a decade. Her future looks bright. (Stony Plain)