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Rosie Flores

Working Girl's Guitar

(Bloodshot; US: 16 Oct 2012; UK: 15 Oct 2012)

Jukebox jumpin’, jump-jump

Rosie Flores named her album Working Girl’s Guitar. The conceit of the title song is that Flores sings it from the point of view of the musical instrument. But it’s clear that Flores is singing about herself as a “working girl” in both senses of the word. While she did not write the song, she expresses pride in her labor and artisanship. Flores has recorded more than a dozen top notch albums during the past 30 years. However, Flores knows the darker side of having to please the public. She has bounced from label to label, and despite her talents, Flores still struggles to make a good living.

Flores is an excellent guitarist in the Texas traditions of amalgamated blues, country, rock, rockabilly, etc. She chose to pen a tune about her instrument because she’s so adept at it. While the title cut reveals her ability to slash and strum, Flores’ version of the Beatles’ “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” suggests the softer side of her playing. And despite Jimi Hendrix’s famous warning against surf music, Flores takes on the devil with the instrumental “Surf Demon #5.” There’s no reason to ask what happened to the first four, heh heh heh. Flores’ guitar must of have eaten them whole.


Other cuts reveal what a good singer Flores is, whether she’s crooning a soft duet with Bobby Vee (yes, that Bobby Vee of “Take Good Care of Maybe” circa 1961!) on “Love Must Have Passed Me By” or bopping and growling on Janis (“the Female Elvis”) Martin’s early hit, “Drug Store Rock and Roll”. The song features the immortal chorus:


Jukebox jumpin’, jump-jump
Feet keep thumpin’, thump-thump
Drugstore’s real gone man
Rock-bop-jump-thump, rock ‘n’ roll


You don’t have to be a cat to recognize just how cool those lines are. It should be noted that Flores recently co-produced the posthumously released Janis Martin album The Blanco Sessions.


While there are only 9 cuts here that take up a mere 33 minutes, Flores proudly proclaims that she’s “Little But I’m Loud”. There’s nothing small about this album. She knows that it’s better to be a bit hungry than to give “Too Much”, as she sings on her rendition of the King’s classic blues number. On “Yeah, Yeah”, a tribute to her late friend Duane Jarvis. Flores sings that living for day, opening your heart, and such, make a person part of everything. She makes her connection with other musicians here.


Flores sings lead and backing vocals and all the electric guitar tracks, not to mention producing the album. It is easy to forget the other players. Greg Leisz’s tasty slide guitar licks add color to the sound. Red Young’s Hammond B3 organ grounds the tunes in a deep and soulful vibe. Tommy Vee on upright and electric bass rhythms, Noah Levy on drums and percussion, and T. Jarrod Bonta on piano all enter into the mix to give Flores a solid foundation from which she can kick butt. Flores is a working girl whose instrument and voice labor to give you a good time and make you think and feel more deeply.

Rating:

Steven Horowitz has a Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Iowa, where he continues to teach a three-credit online course on "Rock and Roll in America". He has written for many different popular and academic publications including American Music, Paste and the Icon. Horowitz is a firm believer in Paul Goodman's neofunctional perspective on culture and that Sam Cooke was right, a change is gonna come.


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11 Nov 2009
Flores has added a few valuable numbers to her discography and a bunch of sassy standards that suggest once again that she will be happiest strapping on an electric guitar and rocking out on a stage.
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