[Stony Plain Records (2011)]
Steady Love is quite the departure from Maria Muldaur‘s previous album, Maria Muldaur and Her Garden of Joy. Whereas the last album was a glorious stroll through the country blues with some special guest friends, Steady Love is an ass-kicking evening at the roadhouse with a surprisingly successful collection of blues numbers that border at times on R&B. It helps that her voice is deeper and gruffer these days. Not to be a generationalist, but I’m wondering if we’re starting to see a wave of baby boomer blues artists who’ve aged enough that they now sound like the original blues artists they were first emulating. Certainly, Gregg Allman’s stunning blues album from last year is a great example of this, and Maria Muldaur really sounds like one of the old blues shouters she’s emulated and admired all her life. Or maybe it’s a lifetime of experience on the road and in the studio. Whatever the case, we’re hearing some amazing albums these days from artists who used to be at the mainstream of blues/roots rock/Americana. Which is great! In Maria’s case, a victory lap is most deserved, and that’s what this album feels like. It’s not necessarily ground-breaking or innovative. It’s not another T-Bone Burnett-produced examination of the deeper meanings of American roots music. It’s just an artist enjoying the music she’s always loved and nailing the kind of swagger it takes years to perfect.
Standout tracks include the fuzzed-out fun of “I’ll Be Glad,” the the rollicky gospel-shout number “I Done Made It Up In My Mind,” the brassed-out soul of the title track “Steady Love,” and the eerie blues number “I’m Not Alone”.
—Devon Leger (Shoreline, WA)