Marcia Ball

Marcia Ball
Shine Bright
Alligator Records

Marcia Ball remains a powerhouse that shines brightly on the Crescent City’s fertile music scene, mixing Texas blues with the unique sounds of Louisiana swamp. Her latest outing infuses a joyous gospel exuberance with classic two-fisted New Orleans piano, culminating in the self-titled opening track. The energetic declaration continues with the Fats Domino-like “I Got to Find Somebody,” which utilizes a rocking saxophone commonplace in early rock ‘n’ roll. “Life of the Party” conjures up tropical, beach-laden affairs, a nod to her current imprint’s prior forays into reggae and the Louisiana-bred singer’s New Orleans roots that significantly shaped the Jamaican genre. “What Would I Do Without You” crosses Ray Charles with veteran Irma Thomas to produce a soul-charged love song. “When the Mardi Gras is Over” channels the energy of Professor Longhair’s Mardi Gras evergreens, emphasizing the diversity of its people and eclectic sounds. “Pots and Pans” shows a sociopolitical side to Ball, imbued with courage, strength, and self-determination against corrupt segments of society. “World Full of Love” continues the message trend, a gospel-soul duet slice that would fit right in with 1960s Louisiana ballad tradition. “Too Much for Me” is a fun, beer-drinkin’ roadhouse rhythm that ends with the zydeco-peppered anthem “Take a Little Louisiana,” “everywhere you go,” which pays tribute to trailblazers such as Allen Toussaint, Fats Domino, and Buckwheat Zydeco. Bold, rollicking, and sassy, Marcia Ball comes out with top honors on this excursion that pays homage to her distinctive Texas-Louisiana blues romp while winning critical plaudits, demonstrating how the American regional storybook is still alive to inspire and celebrate.

by Kevin LaTorre