Reverend Rabia Wozniakowksa is an ordained minister, based in Berkeley, CA who has no problem in playing the blues. After running a recording of a few tracks past harp player Virgil Thrasher (often found onstage alongside Robert Lowery) she was persuaded of the virtues of turning it into a full blown CD. The end result is "Never Too Late," and there is a lot for all of us to be thankful for.
The opening track, Memphis Minnie's "Black Cat Mama," makes you sit up and take note. It quickly becomes clear that Rev. Rabia has a great voice and is a good guitarist too. There is a real sense of spirit about her singing and playing too, which shines through on many of the tracks here. She is joined on several tracks by Virgil Thrasher, starting with "Roll and Tumble" and the two work together extremely well.
The first of the three original tracks, "Mama Java" sees Rev. Rabia in solo mode. The second, the title track, is highly memorable because it is one of those tracks that you just cannot dance too. The best of the three originals is "Be Careful What You Wish For," however. Like many of the great tunes, it has a simple structure, but it is very effective, and will have you whistling it after a couple of plays.
Although Rev. Rabia sticks mainly to blues material, she also includes a version of "Fever." On it she shows that she is more than capable of playing jazzy chord accompaniment if necessary. This is a minor diversion however, before she comes back to the blues with "Cry Like A Baby" which is attributed to Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, but sounds like a different song to these ears. Either way, it is very good. Then after a quick run through an acapella version of "Pick A Bale" she rounds things off with a nice interpretation of "Rock Me" (aka "Rock Me Baby").
"Never Too Late" is a fine CD. Rev. Rabia is an accomplished guitarist, whether it be fingerpicking or slide, and has a terrific voice to match. The nearest comparison that comes to mind is Sheila Wilcoxson. The original tunes on the album hint at a bright future too, and the only minor gripe is that the album is a little light on playing time (less than 35 minutes). Those who want more will just have to stretch out and hit the replay button. There are not all that many female acoustic blues musicians around, but on the evidence of "Never Too Late," Rev. Rabia seems to have what it takes to get right up there with the best of them.
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