Kat Danser’s voice both attracts and compels you to listen, to drink in the joys and sorrows of the blues.
No doubt about it. Edmonton’s undisputed Queen of the Swamp Blues delivers deep soul magic and a raw vocal power that comes from the heart, not just the throat. It’s a passion, a career and the meaning of her life.
Danser’s new album, Baptized By The Mud, sums up years of studies with legendary blues icons along the Mississippi River.
The 12-track receives its official release at the Arden Theatre on Friday, Nov. 1. This is her fourth CD following Passin’ a Time (2010), also released at the Arden.
Once again the local singer-songwriter shows the world her blues are joyful, life-affirming, compelling and soul-stirring. “This time I’ve moved down the river from Mississippi to New Orleans,” chuckles Danser.
In Baptized By The Mud, she entwines the roots of blues and spirituals with a combination of fresh material and lesser-known gospel standards.
In studying the southern catalogue, Danser discovered that blues, spirituals and gospel music all spring from the same roots. However, it was the early recording and publishing industry that divided the genres of music, something that would forever colour the image of each style. Blues developed a jukebox, gin-joint label while churches radiated with the purity of gospel.
“Blues became the devil’s music. Gospel music was for the righteous. I like to say that gospel was preached from the pulpit and blues was preached from behind the plow.”
“My point is that there is no separation. I want to make it new and uplifting. There’s so much richness for hope and salvation in these songs.”
The CD also aims to pay tribute to legendary blues women who travelled the vaudeville circuit. Ma Rainey, also crowned Mother of the Blues, recorded 94 titles. Her song, Prove It On Me Blues, skips back to 1928.
“She wrote about reclaiming her body and sexuality when it wasn’t popular. She had a love affair with a woman and she was a great singer. Everybody was taught to sing the blues through her chops.”
Instead Sun Goes Down was written in April on a tour bus while Danser was playing in the Maritimes. It’s a meaty tune where the singer struggles to find a moral code, yet it fits right in with a New Orleans vibe.
“It’s a fun time. It’s very danceable.”
Balancing the serious stuff is the whimsical Crazy for You and the humorous Win Some Lose Some, a tale of a gal looking for a pal.
The album was recorded live in multi-award-winning producer Steve Dawson’s Vancouver no-frills soundproofed garage. After two rehearsals Danser and her backup band recorded the album on the third take.
“I said if I couldn’t deliver it live to CD, I shouldn’t be recording. I didn’t want to take the life out of the music.”
Dawson, who now lives in Nashville, is flying in Friday to accompany Danser. Also on board the album and live show are drummer Jeff Hicks, keyboardist Darryl Havers and electric stand-up bassist Jeremy Holmes.
“They are top-notch professionals from start to finish. They come well prepared and serve the music. They are constantly responding to my vocals. They keep a platform under my feet and that comes from years of experience.”
For the Arden hometown show, Danser also features soul singer Ian Alleyne (a.k.a. Fendercase) and vocalist Jade Patrice.
Friday, Nov. 1 at 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $28. Call 780-459-1542 or purchase online at www.ticketmaster.ca