Liz Mandeville
" Clarksdale "
Blue Kitty Music

Blueswax Rating 7

"Reviewer Bob Putignano says that Liz Mandeville's return to recording is a solid effort and features some great blues legends, including one of the last recordings of Willie "Big Eyes" Smith." Chip Eagle for Blues Revue Magazine &

A Solid Return, With a Little Help From a Few Blues Legends

This is Liz Mandeville's fifth recording, first for her own and recently formed Blue Kitty Music label. This recording includes guests Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, Eddie Shaw, Donna Herula, and Nick Moss, who are also dear old friends of Mandeville.

Clarksdale is a mixed bag that covers various genres. I felt that Mandeville's strongest selections are her more rocking and jump tunes. Kicking off the album is "Roadside Produce Stand" which finds her band tight and jumping in fine fashion. Mandeville's vocals are also strong and definitely right on the target. I found "A Soldiers Wife" to be an odd inclusion; though lyrically passionate, it's far from anything else on this recording and has no blues roots whatsoever. Eddie Shaw honks powerfully on the bouncy "Sweet Potato Pie," and it's a track that will definitely have you moving and grooving. I thoroughly dug Donna Herula's slide work on the duet performance of "Sand Baggin," which I suspect has connections to the 2011 Memphis floods. The album concludes with a jumping and hilarious "My Mama Wears Combat Boots," which is seemingly a tip of the hat and tribute to women in our armed services, additionally Nick Moss adds some very sharp guitar licks on this upbeat and high-flying finale, which left me wanting for more songs from Mandeville's fine album. Clarksdale is dedicated to the late, great Willie "Big Eyes" Smith, who appears on five tracks playing drums and adding some blues harps on two. (By the way: The storyline is that "Big Eyes" recommended that Mandeville should not give her music to a label and suggested that she should start her own. Willie told Liz that he'd help her, and kept his word.) Additionally, the liner notes are fact filled, and I found out that Mandeville and Herula were semi-finalists at the 2012 International Blues Challenge in Memphis. In summary, this is fine addition to Mandeville's discography; there's definitely something here for everyone, she also wrote and produced all eleven of the tracks. Mandeville's career was interrupted by illness in 2009 and it's been about four years since her previous recording, but she is back on the road and active again. It will be interesting to see what Liz has for us on her next album, but for now you will enjoy "Clarksdale". I certainly did.

Bob Putignano a senior contributing editor at BluesWax. He is also the heart of Sounds of Blues at Bob maybe contacted at:

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