Saturday, June 21, 2008

Her Name is Gina reviewed by Steve Jones

Her Name is Gina
Gina Fox
BackBender Records
10 tracks, 45 minutes

It seems like the Garden State has become a hotbed for the blues. No longer is it just the realm of Bruce Springsteen; on any given night we will find the likes of Dave Gross, Gina Sicilia, Dennis Gruenling or Gina Fox playing the blues somewhere between the Big Apple and the City of Brotherly Love. Many of our readers are familiar with the first three artists as they have played the Rockford area, and some have even done Blues in the Schools programs for us. Gina Fox is the lone artist many of you may have never heard of.

Gina is a great blues singer with beautiful and expressive voice. Born in Newark and raised in Montclair, her family was and is deep into the NY/NJ music scene. Her mother was also a singer and her granddad Ralph Randall sang with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra. Gina’s been singing the blues since age 14 and is a member of Dennis Gruenlings’ Jump Time roadhouse blues band.

Gina diverges from her roots in roots music and swings gently and sexily into the world of the crooners with this disc. The CD features six original tracks penned by Gina and four covers. From the opening of the first song, Gina’s “Night Time,” we know this is going to be a venture into the world of loneliness, lost loves, broken dreams and the never ending human hope and desires for fulfillment. Sultry lyrics like “night time is the right time for making love...c’mon darling, don’t leave me alone” evoke emotions we have all felt.

The covers are respectfully done with Gina’s own flair. “Loverman,” “You Don’t Know Me,” “How Long Has This Been Going On,” and “On the Willows” receive more than workmanlike interpretations from Gina and her superb backup musicians. The sax work by Doug Sasfai on “Loverman” is gritty while the duet with Paul Rishell on “You Don’t Know Me” with Gruenlings’ added harp work make sweet music.

The “Feelin’ Me” and “One More Time” tracks provide some get down blues with Dennis’ harp providing support to the songs. Gina growls out the lyrics expressively in both cuts like the great blues singer she is.

Backup work throughout is adeptly provided by a plethora of Jersey Boys who play equally well from gritty, barroom blues all the way up to the big band sound. For those of you who appreciate the Great American Songbook and who have appreciated the blues artists who have dived into that Songbook with gusto, this CD is for you.

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