Monday, July 22, 2013

All In reviewed by Rick Davis

All In
Sena Erhardt
Blind Pig Records
11 Tracks

The Sena Erhardt band is creating quite a stir in the blues world with the release of their second CD All In, which was mixed, recorded, and produced by Jim Gaines at Bessie Blue Studios in Tennessee. The multi-Grammy Award winner Jim Gaines has worked with rock and blues artists like Santana, Luther Allison, Albert Collins, George Thorogood, and Stevie Ray Vaughan. Sena recently shared some insight into the band’s first experience of working with Jim Gaines. “I had the good fortune of recording this album at Bessie Blue Studios in Tennessee with Jim Gaines. The gifts of his experience, insights and vision were so inspiring. In the stripped back setting of a country home-turned studio, Jim made the music the star, and helped bring the best performances out of all the musicians on the album. There were no pretenses—it was just about the songs and the stories behind them. I feel honored to have worked with such a legend and gentleman.”

The lineup remains the same regardless of whether they are in the studio or on the road. Ed Ehrhardt, Sena’s father, handles lead guitar, Steve Hansen is on bass, and Tim Hasler is the drummer for this solid, tight blues band, matching the vigor, drive, and intensity of Sena’s vocals and stage presence.

Seven of the eleven songs are originals written by Sena and her dad Ed on the new CD. They open with the heavy-duty original tune “Buried Alive.” Sena’s powerful voice combines with Ed’s blistering guitar solos. Sena’s vocals are straight from the heart on the Bert Russell R&B classic “Cry To Me” first released by Solomon Burke in 1962. The funky title track “All In” offers the convincing lyrics “either you are all in or I’m out.”  Be prepared for fireworks on the Tom Hambridge/Gary Nicholson tune “I Want To Get You Back.” Sena’s vocals are as explosive as Ed’s guitar solos. Listening to Sena sing the Jessie Mae Robinson tune “Cold Cold Feeling” will make your veins run cold. The song was done originally by T-Bone Walker and later by Albert Collins. Ed Ehrhardt is magnificent as he delivers his guitar solos on this one. “Live and Learn,” another original, mixes in elements of blues and jazz guitar into one song. The next original “Man Up” is a hard driven rock “n” roll tune. “Storm’s Coming” starts as a slow blues number and builds to some ferocious guitar solos from Ed. They follow up with the original “Baby Valentine” which expresses the maturity of Sena’s voice as well as any tune on the CD. The fourth cover song “So Excited,” written by B.B. King/Gerald Jemmott, is a perfect song for the band particularly with Sena’s sultry voice and Ed’s Riley B. King guitar style. The original closing song, “Dreamin’ Or Dyin,” is a slow, soulful ballad simmered with just a hint of country adding a nice finishing touch to the album.
This second album shows a tremendous about of creativity and versatility by a relatively new blues band with a rapid ascent to the top. The Sena Ehrhardt band is well on their way to achieving the notoriety they so richly deserve. This is one great band to watch in the future.

Reviewed by Rick Davis

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