Precious Bryant,
Fool Me Good
(Terminus, 2001)

Precious Bryant grew up in Talbot County, Georgia, surrounded by a bevy of community folk, blues and gospel musicians. Eventually she acquired a Silvertone guitar through a Sears & Roebuck catalogue and began her own career. Influenced by early rock 'n' roll and R&B, like the song "Fever" she covers here, Bryant developed a punchy, strumming folk-blues style first recorded by folklorist George Mitchell in 1969. Bryant also appeared on a compilation of Chattahoochee River Valley artists, but this is her debut full-length recording.

The songs on Fool Me Good are all from her usual repertoire, including both her originals and the covers she learned from the radio and other regional artists. Though recently recorded, this is a time capsule back to late '60s rural blues. When Precious sings her arrangement of Blind Willie McTell's "Broke And Ain't Got a Dime," we hear the authenticity of real poverty experience and the clarion voice of rising triumphantly above such conditions. The clear, easy rhythms of her syncopation, heard as clearly on the title track as on any other, keeps each song moving with a forward leaning, swinging rhythm like a muted R&B bass-line.

Bryant's most melancholy visitation is the antique warning, "Don't Let the Devil Ride," but even this carried the hint of a reassuring smile. Other traditionals given the warm, hopeful Precious Bryant treatment are "Blues All Around my Bed," "You Don't Want me No More," "Ups and Downs" and "When the Saint's go Marching In."

[ by Tom Schulte ]
Rambles: 23 February 2002

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