Doin’ What I’m Supposed to Do
Blues vocal powerhouse Demetria Taylor is back, following up her Delmark debut, Bad Girl, with Doin’ What I’m Supposed to Do. Yes, it’s been a decade between albums, but the debut earned a BMA nomination for Best New Artist Debut. This release has many of the same ingredients and the usual dependable Delmark backing musicians for this set of tunes wherein Demetria penned two originals. You might call it a family affair of sorts as Demetria is the daughter of the legendary Chicago blues guitarist, Eddie Taylor, the sister of Eddie Taylor Jr. and the niece of Jimmy Burns. Her mother Vera Taylor was a singer a composer too, as well as her sisters. So, there is a tune from Eddie Taylor, Sr., one from Jr., and one from Vera. Beyond that her bandmates Mike Wheeler (guitar) and Larry Williams (bass) collaborate on five and the other is a chestnut from Magic Sam.
Taylor’s backing band is essentially the Mike Wheeler Band, aside from the leader and Williams, the unit includes keyboardist Brian James, guitarist Carlos Showers, and drummer Melvin “Pookie Styx” Carlisle. On two tracks the esteemed Billy Flynn steps in for Showers and fellow vocalist Deitra Farr sings with Taylor on “Blues Early This Morning.” The tracks run the gamut from traditional Chicago blues to more contemporary R&B. That sweet Chicago sound hits us right away with her dad’s “83 Highway” with the guitars of Wheeler and Flynn hitting deep as Taylor growls with conviction and James pounds a Pinetop-like piano. “Baby Be Good,” a Wheeler-Williams tune shuffles along riding the grooves of the B3 and funky guitar riffs. That style stays intact “Bad Girl Day,” the defiant Taylor announcing she’s putting up with no nonsense. She wants to look good and be her sassy best.
Billy Flynn returns for the rollicking “Blues Early This Morning” as Taylor and Dietra Farr toss lines back and forth. She takes on her brother’s tune, “Welfare Blues” in true Windy City style and James wails away on the B3 organ. Interestingly, given her dad’s and to a lesser extent, her brother’s association with Jimmy Reed, we’re hearing authentic Chicago but not the riffs that resemble Reed’s. Instead, we’re hearing funky, wah-wah infused guitar rhythms and heavy organ mostly, the kind that colors the Mike Wheeler band. “Done” and “Stay Gone” fall into this pattern as well but the title track and the outstanding “I’m Gonna Tell It” have even stronger declarative, fiery tones of a wronged woman who has had enough.
“Nursing My Kitty Cat” is the first of Taylor’s two originals and is a perky shuffle fueled by Wheeler’s band funky drive with James stepping on a piano solo which heights the danceable groove. “You Belong To Me,” the Magic Sam tune rolls along briskly, setting up the finale, Taylor’s “Young Gun Taylor,” where the refrain “rhythm and blues” speaks unequivocally about her music approach, imbued by fine picking from Wheeler.
It’s not clear why we’ve had a decade gap between albums, but rather instantly Demetria Taylor brings a presence, the authenticity passed down to her in her blues royalty family. We can’t help but take notice.
- Jim Hynes