Nancy McKeen -- with her band, the Bluz Machine -- has been a welcome addition to the Burgh music scene for a while now, with Nancy pumping out rock, blues and soul music with considerable style, energy and talent.
The band, which covers everything from the Cranberries to Janis Joplin, has been appearing at more and more local clubs, concerts and festivals, and has just released its second self-produced CD, "Altared."
There are no covers here, though, just five original songs that lean heavily on the blues, but bring in other infuences, and that's all a good thing.
Nancy's voice works well all the way through, from the opening "Whiskey Makes My Man Mean," which takes a country-blues-like and mournful harp-backed opening and then leans into a hard-driving on the bad company created by whiskey and love. The opening was sensuous and slinky enough that I wouldn't have minded if the smoky vocals had continued all the way through.
The title track seems to have been inspired by a visit, or visits, to the Strip District's Altar Bar. The next, "Grams," is a mournful tale that seems to have something to do with the idea that a human soul was once calculated to weigh 21 grams. Or maybe not. It's still a haunting little tune.
"King Bee" is an original, rhythmic take on the many "King Bees" and "Queen Bees" that populate the blues lexicon, and the final "Waltz of Redemption" is a strong country-flavored track with mysterious lyrical overtones.
All in all, an excellent outing. A few good covers in the same spirit could have turned it into a full album, which, based on what the Bluz Machine has produced here, could only be a good thing.
I couldn't find any videos from the CD, but here's one of the band doing one of my favorite Delbert McClinton tunes:
And just for fun, here's "I'm a King Bee" by Slim Harpo: