Shirley King – Blues For A King (Album Review)

Out of Memphis, Tennessee, Shirley King was born with the Blues in her blood. The daughter of late, great Blues legend B.B. King, Shirley King has earned herself the title “Daughter of the Blues,” however, this title is much more than merely a blood relationship, because she certainly has talent. Singing in choir as a child, she would not dive into the world of Blues music until the 1990s, at which point she released the albums Jump Through My Keyhole in 1992 followed by Daughter of the Blues in 1999. Now she is set to return with her brand new LP entitled Blues For A King.

Set for release on Friday, June 19th, 2020 through Cleopatra Blues, a subsidiary of Cleopatra Records, Inc., the new collection of songs covers everything from Blues, Rock, to Soul. In fact, it is such a diverse listen, you do not even need to be strictly a Blues fan to enjoy it. Of course it would help if you had some knowledge of the Blues, but the point is, Blues For A King is such a diverse mix of tunes that you could be a Blues, Rock-n-Roll, R&B, or Soul music fan and still find yourself in love.

Featuring King on vocals, joining her is a slew of talented guest musicians including Joe Louis Walker, Robben Ford, Junior Wells, Pat Travers,  Elvin Bishop, Kirk Fletcher, Steve Cooper, Arthur Adams, Duke Robillard, Harvey Mandall, and Martin Barre formerly of Jethro Tull. An extremely talented, well-assembled lineup of guitarists from the Blues scene and beyond, each add a crisp, powerful quality to the music that not only make it sound good, but damn fresh.

Consisting of 11 tracks, they were carefully selected by King in order to build an album that is balanced and extremely diverse. From the Motown, Blues hybrid opening of “All Of My Lovin’,” to the passionate rendition of the Traffic hit “Feelin’ Alright,” as well as the rich straight-up Blues single “I Did You Wrong,” there is plenty here to dig your heels into. This includes a roaring cover of “That’s All Right Mama,” which was made famous by Elvis Presley, a stunning version of Blind Faith’s “Can’t Find My Way Home,” plus a passionate take on The Temptations’ “Johnny Porter” with complement of the supporting vocals from  Arthur Adams. 

Then there is often covered song “Feeling Good.” Sung by everyone from Nina Simone to Michael Bublé, King really digs deep to make it her own. Continuing to keep the music interesting, “Give It All Up” is extremely uplifting, “Gallows Pole” and “Hoodoo Man” deliver more classic Blues, and Etta James’s favorite “At Last” sends it all home in the most spectacular fashion.

As mentioned, it is one thing to be the offspring of a legendary musician, but it is another to show you belong, and that is exactly what Shirley King does. She has the emotion, grit, and rawness in her voice that makes the music real. This, combined with an impeccable cast of supporting musicians, stellar production, and delightful song selection, make Blues For A King a spectacular listen. That is why Cryptic Rock gives this album 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

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