Support Local Journalism. Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club.

Alvin Youngblood Hart & Sue Foley 

Start With the Soul (Hannibal); Love Comin' Down (Shanachie)

Alvin Youngblood Hart and Sue Foley -- two of the better young blues artists -- explore the idea of traveling on their new discs and come up with some new ways of making the traditional blues theme resonate. When Hart, a dreadlocked guitar virtuoso, released the acoustic Big Mama's Door in 1996, he was hailed as a savior in the preservation of Delta blues. Then, as with so many Delta bluesmen, he left home and took it to the crossroads of Texas for his second album, the far more eclectic Territory. The migration is complete with this third album. He's gone to California, and he's even got a song here about breaking into the movies. Hart dusts off a hit parade relic like the 1971 smash "Treat Her Like a Lady," just to prove he has left the country behind and is now totally plugged in; he's successfully incorporated soul, jazz, and R&B with the electric blues. Hart set out four years ago to show us he can do just about anything with a guitar, and with Start With the Soul, he's convinced us that he can.

Foley's traveling takes on sociological dimensions on Love Comin' Down, although relocating from Quebec to Texas is quite a haul. Her journey extends from the bailiwick of poor Southern black men to the homes of middle-class young white women. If Foley's fair skin and red hair raised eyebrows when she released Young Girl Blues four albums ago, it doesn't now. White women playing blues is no longer a novelty. If you ignore the fact that her voice isn't that great and that the soul isn't quite there, Love Comin' Down is a solid successor to previous releases. In her case, the guitar does the singing, and it is the voice of the blues as a feeling as much as a musical style. Foley can take on Delta blues ("Empty Cup"), urban blues ("Two Trains"), or lounge-lizard ballads ("Am I Worthy?"). She's a strong composer and a good interpreter of the songs of others. She has chosen her covers well this time out, even though it's a safe move to do Willie Dixon's "Same Thing" -- a song so good, it's hard to perform badly. Hart and Foley are among a handful of young talents keeping the blues viable into the music's second century, and their new albums shouldn't be ignored.

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at [email protected].

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

More by Steve Byrne

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 26, 2022

View more issues

Most Popular

No recently-read stories.

Visit the archives…


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.


Staff Pick Events

  • Michael Kosta @ Hilarities Comedy Club

    • Fri., Jan. 28
  • Albert Lee/The Cryers @ The Kent Stage

    • Fri., Jan. 28
  • Ali Siddiq @ Improv Comedy Club & Restaurant

    • Fri., Jan. 28

© 2022 Cleveland Scene: PO Box 1028, Willoughby, OH 44096-1028, (216) 505-8199
Logos and trademarks on this site are property of their respective owners.

Website powered by Foundation