Mary Ann Redmond - Prisoner of the HeartDavid Jacobs-Strain - Stuck on the Way Back

Mary Ann Redmond
Prisoner of the Heart


David Jacobs-Strain
Stuck on the Way Back

(Northern Blues)

First Appeared at The Music Box, February 2003, Volume 10, #2

Written by John Metzger


The blues is one of the hardest genres to tackle. It’s a relatively simple art form, full of basic chords and chord progressions that have repeated themselves in song after song for decades. It’s this very simplicity that makes it so difficult to play the blues. There are no studio gimmicks or catchy hooks to help one along. As a result, the difference between good and bad can be found within the emotional range that an artist can convey. Two newcomers worthy of attention from blues fans are Mary Ann Redmond and David Jacobs-Strain.

Redmond’s sophomore effort Prisoner of the Heart epitomizes both sides of the equation. In an unusual twist, it’s her renditions of cover songs that best demonstrate her talent. Buddy Johnson’s Since I Fell for You is a heartfelt gospel-blues powerhouse; Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed is a flash of soulful sunshine; Jimmy Cliff’s Many Rivers to Cross soars to the highest of heavenly heights; and Sam Cooke’s You Send Me is a gorgeously raw blend of jazz, and blues, and soul. In comparison, Redmond’s own compositions such as Make It Last, That Is All, and the title track, are drab, but with time and experience, she’ll undoubtedly develop the knack for crafting songs that set her mighty voice against a more intriguing backdrop.

David Jacobs-Strain has an equally strong voice, one that belies his young age as a freshman in college. He’s a terrific guitarist too, capable of tearing into a rhythmic groove with amazing dexterity. As his sophomore effort Stuck on the Way Back plays on, however, many of the songs begin to sound a little too similar to one another as aching vocals, delicate picking, and gritty slide glide over relentlessly repetitive rhythms. Nevertheless, his songwriting remains in step with his influences. For example, his glistening instrumental Sidewalk Rag sits snugly within splendid versions of R.L. Burnside’s Poor Black Mattie and a medley of the traditional tunes Poor Boy and Nobody’s Fault. Further, his minimalist approach is no doubt an ode to label-mate and mentor Otis Taylor. It isn’t clear as to why, at the age of nineteen, Jacobs-Strain inhabits the world-weariness of the blues that most folks twice his age seem to lack. Suffice it to say that whatever the reason, Jacobs-Strain is the real deal — a blues artist to watch.


Prisoner of the Heartstarstar ½

Stuck on the Way Backstarstarstar


Mary Ann Redmond's Prisoner of the Heart is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!

David Jacobs-Strain's Stuck on the Way Back is available
from Barnes & Noble. To order, Click Here!



1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!


Copyright © 2003 The Music Box