Baltimore area native Cathy Jean ha s been singing professionally since the age of nine. Amazingly, it was not until age 21 that she was finally turned on to the blues and her life was changed forever. According to Cathy Jean, she never consciously made a decision to become a blues artist; it simply happened as the result of being surrounded by the blues and then embracing the music as a shield from her troubles.
Marshall Road Apocalypse is the third independently released disc by Cathy Jean through her own Cathy Jean Productions. Following her releases of Tear Me Apart (1995) and I Want (1998), Marshall Road Apocalypse represents a lusty movement by Cathy Jean in her ability to craft songs with deep personal meanings that the listener can relate to from experiences in their own lives.
A self-proclaimed fan of the recently departed John Lee Hooker, the opening number on Marshall Road Apocalypse, "Your One and Only," is a fitting testament to the Boogieman's signature riff. This is followed by a song called "Kauai" with a sound reminiscent of Ann and Nancy Wilson (a.k.a., Heart), another of Cathy Jean's early inspirations. "Kauai" is a story about a visit to Hawaii and includes some great sax by Mike Crotty.
The darker side of the recording appears on the song "The Kids From Glen Burnie." This is a hauntingly strange tune that appears to describe the "Marshall Road Apocalypse" identified by the title of the CD. Further evidence of this is found in the lyrics that indicate, "I'm gonna buy that big house on Marshall Road; Detonate that bitch, Stand there and watch it explode; For giving me all of my life it's heavy load." Listening to the lyrics, one can only hope that this inspiration for this song was a horribly explicit nightmare and not a dark time in Cathy Jean's real past. In spite of its disturbing lyrical content, the song has a great jazz heavy feel that makes it one of the most attractive songs on the recording. Several other songs on the CD speak openly to the treacherous nature of relationships, especially "Call It Quits" and "Behind My Back." However, even with the potentially depressing subject matter, these songs are exceptionally well done with a distinctive jazz-blues sound.
Other musical styles avail themselves in songs like "Ms. Jeneration Hip Zone," a funk- rock nugget where Cathy Jean's voice provides instant reminders of Rickie Lee Jones. Also enjoyable is the jump blues sound of "Dirty One," a song that describes one incredibly messed up day in the life (???of Cathy Jean???).
Throughout the CD, Cathy Jean's voice is strong and distinctive, the band is tight and elements of rock, blues, jazz and funk echo through the fifteen original tunes. Clearly, this recording demonstrates that Cathy Jean is a talent that has remained in the background far too long. Marshall Road Apocalypse can be purchased through Cathy Jean's website (www.cathyjean.com) or at Amazon .com, along with her other two recordings. Pick up a copy and see why everyone should hear more about Cathy Jean.
This review is copyright © 2001 by Dave "Doc" Piltz, and Blues On Stage, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission. For permission to use this review please send an E-mail to Ray Stiles.