Album review: Markey Blue knocks it out of the park

“The Blues Are Knockin” is a standout album that spotlights the great up-and-coming blues duo Markey Blue.

Vocalist Jeanette Markey and guitarist Ric Latina joined forces in 2013 and have been on a slow-but-steady rise ever since. Their first album, “Hey Hey,” was a delightful success in blues circles and their latest continues to build on that momentum. A hearty concoction of soul and influences from both the Delta and Chicago, Markey Blue can paint in a lot of different shades of blue.

Markey BlueMarkey’s voice feels more like a brass instrument than anything. Blistering and robust, it’s the perfect blend of brazen sensuality to match the band’s sharp touch. You can sense her fiery passion warming the night on “I’ll Wait For You.” She sings defiantly, almost spitefully, like she’s waiting on the front porch for her man, smoking a cigarette, holding a bottle of whiskey, with pink fuzzy handcuffs hanging from her belt, not leaving until she gets what she needs.

But that bravado turns to nurturing love on “Cold Outside,” where she looks to nurse a broken man rather than break him down. The chilly guitar paints a mournful picture, but the added heat of a horn section keeps the song moving and is the lit candle in Markey’s window to guide her lover home.

“Cash Is Always King” has a regalness to it thanks to the shimmering organ and the velveteen guitar licks from Latina. It is a solid Chicago blues number that makes you bow in the presence of Markey’s subtly powerful delivery and Latina’s command over his instrument. They are not blues royalty, yet, but they fit right in mingling with the rest of the court.

Markey’s voice is probably the most prominent highlight throughout the album. But the the song that stands out is the rumbling “Be My Train,” a tribute to bluesman Little Milton. Markey is enlivening as usual, but cedes the spotlight to the band’s slick, night-out-on-the-town energy of blaring horns and scorching guitars. Markey coos little flirtatious words of encouragement toward Latina’s solos and he lets loose with an extended jam that is the most freeing of anything on the record. “Lay Down Lucille” elicits a similar, muscled vibe as “Be My Train,” a tribute to fallen legend B.B. King, but it doesn’t quite have the same coolness.

The album’s emotional highwater mark is on the exquisite “Me Missing You.” Markey shows off her vulnerable side in a deeply soulful performance that pulls at heartstrings, while notes fall from Latina’s frets like tears. It is a tone that is not matched anywhere on the album and Markey and Latina are at their most symbiotic as they navigate the heartbreak together.

“The Blues Are Knockin” is a low-key blues album that feels big and brash with a lot of sparkling moments that will perk up the ears of any blues enthusiast.

  • Markey Blue
    “The Blues Are Knockin”
    Notable Tracks: “Me Missing You,” “Be My Train,” “I’ll Wait For You”

JR Miller of “The High Note” provides a behind-the-scenes closeup of the making of “The Blues are Knockin”

About Garrett Bethmann

Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. He moved to Lake Tahoe in summer 2012.

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