30 by 90
Written by Baltimore Blues Society
"Harmonica Girl" Paula Rangell and the Pontiacs present a tasty serving of contemporary blues laced with Louisiana flavors in their second release, 30 by 90. Those numbers define the latitude and longitude of New Orleans, and it's clear that this band rocks with a Big Easy beat. Paula is a fine songwriting talent, penning all the material on this warm satisfying album. The sound is varied but coherent, and the disc is well produced.
Music is apparently an important legacy in Rangell's family, as brothers Nelson and Hobby play tenor and alto sax on "I Got It All From You", A touching tribute to their father , Dr Nelson Rangell. Paula picks up alto on three tracks, and belts out some convincing harp on four others, but shines brightest in her role as a vocalist and songwriter. This is a thoroughly enjoyable outing which should bring her to broader attention, with grooves and crooning that should appeal to the entire blues community.
There are ten original songs on the album, all of which stand strong on their own, in a mixed bag of styles. "Got Nobody to Love" is a slow, sexy, cute tune with echoes of cool T-Bone Walker and soulful, urban styling and jazzy phrasing. "Got nobody to love, no one to be his little baby doll. I got no man in my life, it's like having nothing at all. So if you see sadness in my eyes, it shouldn't be a big surprise, cause I got nobody to love." "Harmonica Girl" is an uptempo rocker, a traveling song, the chorus of which keeps coming back to Paula's answer to a curious customs agent, "I went all the way around the world, to get back home to you. I got to the airport, you know the man he wouldn't let me through. The man stepped up to me and said, have you anything to declare? A bag of harps, a soul full of blues, and there ain't nothing else in there. I'm the harmonica girl, hey man you gotta let me through." And the girl wails with a relaxed confidence and control that is consistent throughout the disc. "30 by 90" is, of course, pure New Orleans with sweet horns and tinkling piano work, and sings praises of life in the home of Professor Longhair and of Earl king, whose guitar is featured in the song.
Pontiacs band members are Paula, jack Cole on guitar, David Hyde on bass, Bob Andrews on Hammond B3 and piano, and Tom Worrell on piano. Guests include Cranston Clements and Earl King on guitars, Johnny Vidacovich on drums, Nelson Blanchard on piano, The Louisiana Horns (Ward Smith, tenor and baritone, Bobby Campo, trumpet), and the Rangell Brothers Horns.