Austin, Texas, singer Ruby Dee has been leading The Snakehandlers for around fourteen years, but she had to overcome massive difficulties to make this album. Following an accident in 2008, she suffered traumatic brain injury and she has basically had to learn to speak again, eventually regaining the ability to write songs again, though not with the ease she possessed before the accident.
There is no need for a sympathetic approach though, this album most certainly stands on its own merits. It is a joyous collection of mostly rocking tunes – blues, rockabilly and Americana – sung by a very sassy sounding Ruby accompanied by a tight band that includes Jorge Harada’s wonderful guitar work. Expect to find the driving vintage rhythm and blues sound of the opening Not For Long, straight-up rockabilly, as on Mean Mean Woman and When I Steal, a country tinge to the title track provided by Dave Leroy Biller’s atmospheric steel guitar playing, Camille is a rock-a-ballad with a wonderful smoky and vulnerable vocal by Ruby and Can You Spare A Match is a jumping swing-blues with strong affinities to classic era Louis Jordan. Listen too to the doghouse bass playing of Dylan Cavaliere on the aforementioned Can You Spare A Match? and the slightly risqué Pretty Little Kitty.
All songs are originals with the exception of rockabilly Jack Scott’s The Way I Walk, which contains definite echoes of The Stray Cats in this version. If you like your music rocking, rootsy, sexy, exciting, and incredibly infectious, then this is the set for you.
– Alan Pearce
Blues Matters! UK Issue 97 Review July 2017
RUBY DEE AND THE SNAKEHANDLERS Little Black Heart
(Catty Town Records) 2016