may 2012

debbie bondHEARTS ARE WILD
Debbie Bond
Blues Root Productions
(Released November 2011)

Born in California, raised partly in Europe, Debbie Bond settled in Alabama in 1979 and proceeded to play with many a blues great—including Johnny Shines, with whom she shared a lengthy professional partnership for some 11 years prior to his death in 1992—before making her solo debut in 1998 with What Goes Around Comes Around. On Hearts Are Wild, her first solo recording since her debut, she makes the most of her return. (Not that she was idle in the intergnum, though: she served a six-year tenure as guitarist for the late Willie King; returned to school and earned a Masters in American Studies, specializing in blues; and headed the Alabama Blues Project, an educational non-profit devoted to preserving the state’s rich blues history and bringing it into school programs.)

Debbie Bond, ‘I Like It Like That,’ from her new album, Hearts Are Wild, January 7, 2011

Backed by an impressive band led by her personal and professional partner Rick Asherson (keyboards, harp, background vocals) and a terrific three-man horn section, Bond sashays, swaggers and smolders her way through 11 original songs of varying moods and textures plus a lowdown, sultry reading of Aretha Franklin’s “Baby I Love You.” This being a blues album, Ms. Bond naturally investigates the various manifestations of love, but she’s not about strictly bemoaning men who done her wrong. The title track, halting and intense with rich, dark flourishes by guitarist James “Mr. B” Brown and keyboardist Asherson, ponders whether to give her affection to another when she’s wary of taking the leap. Though she has a bit of Joplin edge in her voice, her most affecting performances are on lost love ballads such as her “Still Missing You,” when her plaintive cry (especially a mesmerizing little quaver in the song’s final phrase when she seems close to tears) underscores the depth of sadness she’s feeling post-breakup, with Brown’s thick-toned, shimmering guitar and Asherson’s country-tinged piano adding an extra dollop of lonely ambiance. Somewhat in the vein of “Hearts Are Wild,” an emotional, soul-styled ballad titled “Falling” finds her expressing, in breathless tones, her inability to keep her feelings for another concealed, especially given the potential paramour’s gun-shy nature in the wake of his own romantic debacles. Bond’s ministrations are warm and tender, the counsel of a woman who has cast aside her own reservations about commitment but whose anxieties are suggested by the tremor in her phrasing.

debbie bondNot that Ms. Bond can’t pick up the pace effectively. The greasy strut of “I Like It Like That,” with an assist from Asherson’s moaning harp and rollicking keyboard, brings out the earthy side of our gal’s personality in most appealing fashion; and she even works in a bit of social commentary in the forceful stomp of “My Time,” a wry, humorous complaint about social media robbing her of quiet, reflective moments and, apparently, her main squeeze to boot, as she notes at the end in lamenting, “I got what I wanted but lost what we had/But I got 2,000 friends---and that ain’t bad.” Lacking the vocal power of her fellow Alabamian blues babe Lisa Mills, Ms. Bond deploys her lighter, airier voice with style and personality, thus adding dimension to her well-crafted songs, and makes good use of her band in fashioning interesting soundscapes for her tales (the muted trumpet is a particularly effective comical device, a second voice to hers, in fact, in a lighthearted ode to a monster diva, “Drama Mama”). Good stuff and, one hopes, the start of more regular appearances on disc. –-David McGee

Debbie Bond’s Hearts Are Wild is available at

Founder/Publisher/Editor: David McGee
Contributing Editors: Billy Altman, Laura Fissinger, Christopher Hill, Derk Richardson
Logo Design: John Mendelsohn (
Website Design: Kieran McGee (
Staff Photographers: Audrey Harrod (Louisville, KY;, Alicia Zappier (New York)
Mailing Address: David McGee, 201 W. 85 St.—5B, New York, NY 10024