Teen blues sensation Ally Venable is about to release her second album, Puppet Show. Not only does she prove herself once again a powerful blues vocalist and an extraordinary guitarist, but she also wrote 8 out of the 10 songs on the album, and they are good. With the help of several guests, she and the band explore some intense emotional territory as Venable asserts her ability to suffer and to overcome.
The first song on the album, “Devil’s Son,” features guest guitarist Gary Hooey on lead guitar, with Venable backing him up. With her confident vocal delivery, they establish that this album can rock and is equally driven by the guitars and Venable’s voice.
The next song, “Bridges To Burn,” also features a guest, Lance Lopez, who plays together with Venable. This time the guitars emphasize the intensity of the song, which resonates just the right amount of bite. Venable then continues the hard rocking and the theme of overcoming adversity in “Cast Their Stones.”
“Back Water Blues” changes the pace and shows that this woman can handle more traditional blues. It features tasty harmonica from guest Steve Krase. Continuing that vein, Venable next delivers a fantastic cover of “She Caught The Katy (And Left Me a Mule To Ride,”) which is one of my favorite tracks just because she does such a delightful job with it.
“Puppet Show” illustrates Venable’s remarkable writing skills. This is a strong declaration of independence from a controlling presence. “Comfort In My Sorrow” is a slower but no less intense song about searching for help. It has a bit of a country blues feel, possibly because Venable’s tone and her ability to sound both strong and vulnerable remind me of Dolly Parton.
“Survive” continues to echo the theme of fighting through hard times through sheer willpower. “Waste it On You” features some excellent guitar solos as it addresses the source of Venable’s disillusionment directly.”Sleeping Through The Storm” gives the drummer a chance to shine along with the guitar in the driving riff as it once again asserts her determination to overcome any storm that comes her way.
Venable may not have reached full maturity yet, but it seems her music has. This is a strong and vibrant album and highly recommended.