Love The Game
Love The Game is Debbie Davies’ seventh release as a bandleader since playing with blues legends Maggie Mayall and Albert Collins. This CD finds Debbie entering middle age. The thirteen songs offer her little commentaries on aging and other life observation during her decades long career as a musician and a performer. Duke Robillard offers his expertise as a producer and guitar player, and brings along a host of other guests to back Debbie and her regular touring band. Debbie ruminates that life is full of obstacles and challenges, but the only way to succeed is to jump back in the fray and hopefully come out a winner.
The semi-autobiographical title track embraces her philosophy of “you have to play to win.” It’s a rocking blues song sung with the voice of a woman who’s seen a lifetime of dive bars — drinking their house whiskey, playing live, getting paid, and loving every minute of it. “Can’t Live Like This No More” finds a woman in the throes of her crisis. Basslines meet organ into a funky rhythm, introducing us to a song about living a tough life but wanting a secure future. Debbie bemoans the lack of health insurance while wailing away on guitar leads that she shares with Duke Robillard, who is fast becoming a top producer for blues artists. “Fired Up” features a trio of guitar slingers. Coco Montoya joins Debbie and Duke for a three-way brawl for guitar eminence that ends up finding all three on top. “Fired Up” also proves that Debbie can stand on her own as a female blues guitarist without drawing comparisons to Bonnie Raitt.
“Down in the Trenches” slows the pace with the CD’s only torch song, about unrequited love. “Worse Kinda Man” picks the tempo back up with keyboardist Bruce Katz playing saloon style piano for this comical, early rock romp about men who are full of flash but missing all the substance. Since this is an original tune penned by Debbie herself, she must be speaking from experience. Rocker J. Geils (remember him?) makes a guest appearance on the slide guitar. “Can•t Find the Blues” borders pretty close to a pop hit with its uplifting melody lines, and “Was Ya Blue” returns to the Mississippi Delta with its fingerpicking acoustic guitar riff and barrelhouse piano.
At this point on the CD, Debbie ventures into the world of R&B. A horn section kicks in while Debbie and Duke switch guitar styles. The credits show Debbie authored “I•m Just Your Fool,” but it has Smokey Robinson written all over it. Her search for security as she grows older continues in “Leading Me Home.” The CD’s only cover is Alan Hager’s “Funky Little Teapot,” which bops right over to “She’s Taking Notes.” This song should serve as a warning to all men never to underestimate your woman. Written by Debbie’s drummer, Don Castagno, it could well be about Debbie herself. “Keep Your Sins to Yourself” has an early rock sound that shuffles us to the closer “Grow Up, Grow Old.” Another autobiographical song with a positive message to keep a little bit of a child inside you. The horns and R&B melody will make this an anthem for the Baby Boom generation.
I imagine in twenty years Debbie will be coming out with another release about becoming a senior citizen. Until then, there’s a lot of jamming and gunslinging to be done on her Stratocaster. And regardless of the challenges and obstacles ahead of her, Debbie proves she is not jumping out of this game. She’s playing to win.