Evelyn Rubio

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“I Don’t Understand and slinky atmospheric numbers that recall Sade’s Smooth Operator, Border Town” by Mark Smith

MAY 13th, 2020 – Evelyn Rubio is a sax player/vocalist who treads much the same blues rock path as Mindi Abair but on this release steps in front of her on both vocals and sax. Accompanied on most tracks by the Phantom Blues Band (Tony Braunagel on drums, Mike Finnigan on keys, Johnny Lee Schell on guitar and Larry Fulcher on bass) she also adds a number of Austin-based musicians into the mix for a few tracks including David Grissom and Zach Person on guitars, Kirk Covington on drums and Red Young on keys. The results are a tour through slick, late period Santana rockers, Just Like a Drug where she drops a hot sax solo on top of a Latin-infused beat, smooth jazz numbers, the self-penned Port Isabel, where she shows off both her sax chops and the high end of her vocal range, blues rock, the tough, sinewy He Did Me Wrong But He did it Right and What A Way to Go, ballads that could be mistaken for a track by Heart with their whisper to a roar vocals, I Don’t Understand and slinky atmospheric numbers that recall Sade’s Smooth Operator, Border Town. Nashville based songwriter Kevin Brandt’s (Randy Travis, Montgomery/Gentry, Travis Tritt, Faith Hill) stamp is all over this disc having penned five of the 12 tracks. That’s not a bad thing given sales in the millions of his songs. With the exception of the acoustic Besame Mucho, this disc hews closer to jazz and rock than the blues but the top- notch vocals and sax that Rubio lays down (check out her scat vocals on Cruel) over the stellar back-drop provided by the rest of the crew makes this a fine listen. Make sure to stick around for the three bonus tracks at the end which reprise three of the numbers played the same as the versions found in the main body of the disc but sung in Spanish, fulfilling Rubio’s vison of blues sung in Spanish and Latin Songs sung in the blues. Mark Smith

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