One word comes to mind when I listen to Trudy Lynn burn her way through her delicious new album, “Golden Girl” — tough. In the best sense of the word.
The crackling band is tough, especially the lead guitar work; the songwriting is tough, and most of all, Lynn’s searing vocals are tough.
All that toughness has been honed by more than 55 years of performing blues and soul, and just possibly by growing through the Houston music scene, part of a larger, tougher, Texas music world.
Lynn’s first recording came in 1973 with Sinett Records single, “Long Live the Blues” and a soul ballad “What A Waste.” Since then, she’s been a thirteen-time Blues Music Award nominee, and received two career-defining awards in 2019: the Living Legend Blues Award from the Houston Blues Society and the Jus’ Blues Music Foundation’s Willie Mitchell Lifetime Artist Award.
She’s also been making a lot of terrific music.
Time and age — she’s coming up on 75 — seem to have made her vocals sound only more full and rich, lending an authenticity that’s better described as the “real deal.” Her name is on seven of the eleven songs here; her writing skills reflect her musical wisdom.
You can feel the “real” from the opening bars of “Tell Me,” the first track here: It’s a fiery intro from guitarist Yates McKendree that trades punches with Lynn’s tough vocals throughout. Then there’s the title track, sort of, “Golden Girl Blues,” with guest axman Anson Funderburgh joining McKendree on guitar and pushing the backers to keep up with Lynn’s vocals on how to “keep on livin'” with the golden girl blues.
The toughness continues with “If Your Phone Don’t Ring” and “I’m Just Saying,” then takes a break for the tender soulfulness of the lovely “Is It Cold In Here.”
Steve Krase’s soulful harp kicks open “Trouble In Love,” which brings back Funderburgh and McKendree, with some nice piano fills by Kevin McKendree, all rocking along into the next track, “Take Me Back,” in which I can hear a subtle reference to some great old R&B with a dollop of doo-wop. (Doo-wop, for you youngsters, was an R&B-related musical style from the late 1940s and ’50s, mostly four or five vocalists who gave the music its nickname by sing a lot of doo-wop, doo-wop, doo-wop rhythms in the background.)
Speaking of oldies, another track, “Heartache Is A One-Way Street,” updates what sounds an awful lot like the Bo Diddley beat. Much fun!
But the closer is my favorite song, musically and philosophically — “Life Goes On.” Funderburgh leans into it with a scorching blues solo, and Lynn puts the torch to it all with power and passion. A great song.
This is a very fine album, packed with good, old-fashioned blues and soul. The excellent musicians here provide a perfect backdrop for Lynn’s majestic vocals. Listen to it a lot. It’s worth every musical minute.
Trudy Lynn sings “Golden Girl Blues”
Just for fun: Even more toughness in “Tuff Enuff” from the Fabulous Thunderbirds, in 1986.