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Ally Venable - “Real Gone” album Review.

Posted: November 8, 2023
Twenty-something Texas blues-rock guitarist and singer-songwriter Ally Venable releases her latest solo album, Real Gone! via Ruf Records.

Ally Venable – ‘Real Gone!’

Talking about her muse, Venable explains, “I try to write about what goes on in my life or try to write about something I know others can relate to. We all go through things and it’s okay to have feelings about something going on in your life.”

With fiery licks and beaucoup flair, Venable arrived on the scene when she was 14 years old, releasing her debut EP, Wise Man. Since then, she’s dropped a series of evocative singles, as well as three albums, including 2019’s Texas Honey, Blues Caravan 2019, a live album with Ina Forsman and Katarina Pejak, and 2021’s dazzling Heart of Fire, which topped Billboard’s charts.

In 2022, Guitar World Magazine named Venable one of the ‘Top 15 Young Guns Making the Gibson Les Paul Cool Again.’ The Independent Blues Music Awards handed her the Road Warrior Award, and she performed on Austin’s Experience Hendrix Show, along with Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Zack Wilde, Eric Johnson, and Dweezil Zappa.

This year, Venable will share the stage with Buddy Guy on his farewell tour, rocking Europe again on the Blues Caravan Tour, as well as performing headline shows in the U.S. and abroad.

Produced by Grammy winner Tom Hambridge, Real Gone! features the talents of Joe Bonamassa (guitar on “Broken and Blue”), Buddy Guy (guitar and vocals on “Texas Louisiana”), Steve Patrick (trumpet), Max Abrams (saxophones), Sarah and Rachel Hambridge (backing vocals), Mike Rojas (keyboards), Tommy MacDonald (bass), Kenny Greenberg (guitars), Tom Hambridge (drums, percussion, backing vocals), and, of course, Ally Venable (lead vocals, guitar).

Encompassing a dozen tracks, Real Gone! begins with the title track, rolling out on sleazy, dirty guitars flowing into a thrumming rhythm as Venable’s snarling, femme fatale vocals imbue the lyrics with nasty, swaggering timbres.

“Real gone, real gone / That girl’s real gone / Come on, come on / Play a real gone song / Yeah.”

Entry points on the album include “Texas Louisiana,” drenched in the fierce, crisscrossing guitars and deliciously inimitable voices of Buddy Guy and Venable, giving the tune tasty, visceral blues energy.

Dripping with swampy Mississippi-laced textures, “Blues Is My Best Friend” showcases Venable’s luscious grimacing guitar, at once grimy and shaded with spine-tingling, gnashing colors. Smoldering with sultry tones, Venable’s vocals inject the lyrics with oozing, wicked flavors.

“Oh, I’ll give you all my lovin / On that you can depend / Oh I love you from the start / And where my story ends / Well the Lord may be my shepherd / But the blues is my best friend.”

Low-slung and melancholic, the intro to “Gone So Long” travels on soft, elegiac tones topped by Venable’s gentle, silky voice, simultaneously passionate and yearning. While “Don’t Lose Me” rolls out on sneering wah-wah guitars riding a crunching rhythm as Venable’s vocals soak the lyrics in angst-marinated tangs.

“You want your freedom / I’ll change your mind / You want your freedom / I’ll change your mind / I’m a hard lovin’ woman / And you’re mine.”

“Two Wrongs,” one of the albums standout tracks, pushes out growling, grit-laced guitars moving over a compact, ruthless rhythm. Scowling with cautionary essence and edgy tints, Venable infuses the lyrics with withering brio.

Saturated in piquant, raw, savage blues, Real Gone! stretches from down and dirty heavyheartedness to gospel-laced boogie-woogie.

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