Written by Edward Kliszus
When I first saw the album cover I wondered if anyone today could capture the gritty, rich, honest and intimate passion of Janis Joplin. Tony nominated Mary Bridget Davies has accomplished that and more.
Her fabulous reincarnation of Janis is carefully crafted and supported by world class musician artists who may have just returned from tour with Janis in 1968. The songs are about love, finding one’s way, broken hearts, and independence. They tell stories many know all too well – searching for meaning, love, independence, following our beliefs, being true to ourselves and sometimes, starting again.
The songs are personal and authentic, written by, or as the title says, reimagined by songwriter superstar and The Hit Factory founder and Grammy Award winner Jerry Ragovoy, who’s hits include “Time Is On My Side” sung famously by the Rolling Stones, “Stay With Me,” performed by Bette Midler in The Rose, and “Piece of My Heart,” sung everywhere by Janis Joplin.
How fortunate are we to to hear a Jerry Ragovoy’s previously unreleased songs treasure trove, likened to finding a new J. S Bach musical gem hidden in a Leipzig attic.
“As Long As I Have You” is a bluesy driving force telling a powerful story about standing up on your own and taking control. Lead guitarist Ben Nieves partners with Davies, intensifying her story telling over the rich Hammond B-3 Sonority and solid drumset backbeat.
“Stay With Me” slows it down in a 6/8 feel and says “I am Janis”, beckoning and touching our hearts as she seeks and finds tenderness, giving, happiness, but in the end regret but not too proud to beg.
“The Right of Way” picks it up with a hopeful move toward independence. She’s leaving now and needs the space to make it happen. Maybe we’ll meet again but at the crossroads it’s time for me to go my way. It’s not your fault, you were good to me, but it’s time to go.
“Don’t Compromise” gives us advice on life. Trust and believe in yourself and hold true to your beliefs, don’t be led by others. Your mistakes will come back to haunt you. Take care of yourself first.
“Master of Disguise” touches the hearts of those having to behave a certain way to be accepted by others or simply to feel safe, all the time while someone who will love and follow me.
“Move Me No Mountain” is set in a smooth urbane fusion groove with a light “waka-waka” guitar feel and busy bass. She opens her heart and sets no conditions other than you being yourself, strong and true.
“Getting In My Way” opens up in a sentimental tone of descending chordal sequences with a simple piano accompaniment reminiscent of the Carpenters’ hit “We’ve Only Just Begun.” This open musical setting exposes our chanteusse, featuring Davies’ mastery of subtlety, beauty, reminiscence and intimacy. Another way of asking to be released for a new beginning.
Musicians on the album include Ben Nieves (guitar), Alfredo Guerrieri (bass), Jim Wall (drums), Chris Hanna (keyboard) and was recorded and mixed by Curtis Leonard and Jim Wall at Blue Buddha Music Studios and Play Room Audio (Cleveland, OH). The album was mastered by Oscar Zambrano at Zampol Productions (New York, NY).
It will become a favorite on your playlist – make sure to get it. Released 3/20/2020.