The legend that is Fiona Boyes continues to grow with the release of her 11th solo effort, Ramblified.
For those unaware of Fiona Boyes, she is one of those rare masters of her craft who tends to sail under the radar of the mainstream, yet still commands attention as an artist of significant talent, and importance to a genre of music from which much of modern music was borne…..the blues.
She is also a nationally, and internationally acclaimed and award-winning blues musician best known for her classic finger-picking style of traditional blues and almost constant international touring (which has sadly been tempered by the Covid-19 pandemic in recent years).
However, the pandemic has eased, and she has been able to get back out on the road to ply her trade, and this, combined with the down time brought about by the social isolation we all had to endure throughout that time, helped her to make ready for this new album.
Ramblified, was so named after Boyes found time to read some of her many books about the blues during the quiet times that the pandemic brought. In the process, she found a quote from the legendary Son House which read ‘I wasn’t content anywhere long… just loved to ramble. I was just ramblified, you know’ (from ‘Preachin’ the Blues’ by Daniel Beaumont). This struck a chord with her in a way that resonated with her own adult life, one that had been largely spent on the road.
The twelve songs that go to make up Ramblified are a swampy mix of acoustic and electric instrumentation delivered in Boyes’ own inimitable style, and are a celebration of her capacity to be able to play in front of live audiences once again.
The album begins with the confessional hill blues of ‘Devil Made Me Do It‘ (see clip below), a rollicking, toe-tapping ride which drags you perfectly into the album with its’ echo-laden slide, grungy vocals and the home-made sounds of long-time collaborator and drummer, Mark Grunden.
It then moves through a wonderful mix of deep blues, including a couple of superb Delta blues songs in title track, Ramblified and Good Lord Made You So.
Interestingly, the talents of Watermelon Slim on harmonica and Phil ‘Philbilly’ Jenkins on tuba accompany Boyes on About Time Business Took Care Of Me, a delightfully playful acoustic jaunt which relies heavily on the interplay between the assembled players.
There are even two instrumental songs highlighting Boyes love of unusual guitars (a feature of the album) and both of which are played on ‘Tenner’, her 4 string cigarbox guitar, these being The Revenant and Ramblified Revisited.
Ramblified is an album which takes the listener on a journey, as Boyes ventures back out of her enforced layoff and re-establishes herself into familiar territory……the road. I was struck by this album being like a trip, with the reprise, Ramblified Revisited being it’s wonderfully perfect ending and a homecoming -sitting on the porch, drink in hand, sucking in the end of the day surrounded by the sounds of the great outdoors and a hazy sunset.
Ramblified is out on Blue Empress Records and can be purchased through Fiona Boyes’ website here.