Since their self-titled debut for Alligator in 1990, the Virginian-based acoustic trio Saffire—the Uppity Blues Women have provided an open-access pass to the blues for a wide audience of non-believers and believers alike with their sassy sophistication, straight-talking lyrics and, above all, skillful musicianship. Tapping into the feisty traditional role of blues ladies like Bessie Smith and Memphis Minnie, the all-female group brought a fresh spin to the old themes of cheating men and misbehavin’ women on their eight previous outings.
Now, with only their second studio album in 13 years, Ann Rabson (piano/guitar), Gaye Adegbalola (slide guitar/harmonica) and Andra Faye (mandolin/fiddle/stand-up bass) are sadly Havin’ the Last Word. Their swan song is a glorious collection of 16, mostly original, numbers that swings with ease between rollicking boogie woogie, devotional and high lonesome country blues. Shared vocals deliver lyrics which range from a husband having a nose-candy affair (“I Can Do Bad All By Myself”) to a hilarious take on the all-pervasive cult of thinness in “Too Much Butt”.
On a slightly less frivolous note, Adegbalola’s “Bald Headed Blues” and “Bald Eagle” both tackle the personal aftermath of chemotherapy with defiant humor, the latter referencing the Steve Miller Band’s “Fly Like an Eagle”—all without missing a beat.
Here are some songs from an older record: