Misty Blues’ ninth album Weed ‘Em & Reap, which was released this Spring, contains a wide variety of sounds — it’s a record “squarely rooted in the blues traditions, while meandering in and out of jazz, funk and soul,” according to the band. At the helm of the ship is lead singer Gina Coleman, whose vocals are full, rich, and at times haunting. At its best, Weed ‘Em & Reap dives into the pains and passions of intimacy, and it does it well.
Probably the most popular track on the record is the opener, “No More to Give,” which begins with a dark, slow build and sad, moaning lyrics: “take my heart, take my soul, take my mind… take my kindness, squeeze it dry… You keep taking from me, How am I supposed to live?” The song’s beat is constant and chilling, and it grows in intensity as the track builds. Essentially a song of complaints, the speaker mourns what they’ve lost and asks how they are expected to give anything.
Artist: Misty Blues
Album: Weed’em and Reap
Base of Operations: The Berkshires, Massachusetts
About: “Misty Blues pays homage to the older blues made popular by the bold and brassy women of its time, while still paying respect to classic male artists of the 20’s, 30’s and 40’s. The band hasn’t completely abandoned their musical roots; they have been known to perform classic rock and folk tunes infused with a healthy dose of the blues.”
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Above; Gina Coleman, leader and frontwoman of Misty Blues; submitted photo.
In some ways, “No More to Give” is fairly representative of what the record has to offer: chilling vocals, driving beats, and, above all, lengthy instrumental solos. The structure for most of the tracks is the same: a catchy instrumental intro to establish the beat, a vocal foundation to establish the song’s message, a long departure from words to explore the feelings of the track through playful piano passages and energizing guitar solos, and a return to lyrics toward the end.
One of the songs of this type is the second track, “I Ain’t No Giving Tree,” which has some similar themes to the lead, in that the speaker complains about excessive requests for help. The track is one of the catchiest and most upbeat of the album, with a notable sax presence in the inner instrumental section.
Quite different is what follows, the pure blues “Blues Coaster,” in which Coleman says to “let the music be your guide,” singing atop a foundation of smooth percussion and mellow acoustics. It isn’t the last track with “blues” in the title — a few songs later is “Swing My Blues,” which, with lyrics like “round and round we go” and bouncy vocals, is maybe the most energetic on the album, featuring the driven guitar solos that often define the record’s instrumental interludes.
Some other notable tracks include “Phunk ‘n Grewv,” which features absolutely no vocals but smooth instrumentals and a rich piano solo, and “Find My Way Again,” in which the sax solo’s impressive range makes it the peak of the track.”
While the instrumental solos of the album are creative and exciting, I did find myself wishing for a few more lyrics. I enjoyed the album the most when I was hearing some of the deep narrative thoughts, like in “Hold Me Tight,” in which the speaker exclaims that “I need the love that sets me free.” In the closing track, “Treat Me Like I Want,” they say to “please treat me like I want, don’t treat me like you do, just treat me like I need, I’ll treat the same way too.” In these moments, the firm percussive beats and dreamy sax come together with the lyrics to build intense emotions, whether it be cries for help or passionate statements about love.
Whether you’re a fan of blues looking for a solid record or just someone who likes intense vocals and playful melodies, Weed ‘Em & Reap is bound to get stuck in your head. Misty Blues’ ninth album is worth your time.
Bio: Owen Tucker-Smith is a student journalist based in Williamstown interested in climate, politics, music, and the stories of young people. He is finishing a two year tenure as editor-in-chief of the Greylock Echo, Williamstown’s high school paper, and is excited to be telling stories at a time when quality journalism is more important than ever.