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Alicia Maxwell - Get Your Priorities Straight


10 songs; 45:33 minutes

Styles: Blues Rock, Modern Electric Blues

As the New Year dawns upon the blues world, Wilmington, Delaware’s Alicia Maxwell warmly invites fans to “Get Your Priorities Straight.” According to her website, nerves got the better of her when she was fifteen and experienced her first blues jam. Back then she wouldn’t climb onstage, but she has since found her courage and clear, ringing voice. She met many talented, fellow musicians that mentored her, including B.J. Muntz, Paul Weik of Lower Case Blues, and Kenny Jones, who co-produced this album and wrote seven of the ten numbers on it. Two of them are just workmanlike covers of some of the most well-known songs in rock history: Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You” and the Rolling Stones’ “Satisfaction.” But, Alicia and Kenny’s original compositions are notable in and of themselves, as these three demonstrate:

Track 02: “Get Your Priorities Straight”--Sometimes on blues albums, it’s quite apropos not to have the title track be the opener. “Get Your Priorities Straight” is a down-and-dirty follow-up to the lightly sweet sentiments of opener “That’s How I Feel About You.” Here’s what happens when a significant other doesn’t reciprocate them, and our narrator’s certainly hasn’t: “Think it over. Don’t make me wait,” Alicia sings matter-of-factly. “If you want me to love you, get your priorities straight!” Just in case her lover misses the point, Kenny Jones’ roaring guitar and Steve Sauer’s pointed piano reinforce it.
Track 03: “Hands Off”--Surprisingly enough, Maxwell issues this warning to her partner not because she doesn’t like him, but because he’s unprepared for her. “Hands off if you can’t deliver. Hands off--I need to feel my body quiver!” This blues-rock thrasher will make blues fans do the same, especially if Jimmy Charleston’s bass is channeled through a subwoofer. The harmony on the chorus will have even non-singers attempt it, because it’s a surefire earworm. Note to purists: “Hands Off” this one, and everyone else: Party on!

Track 10: “High and Dry”--Carl Cornwell’s mournful yet sultry tenor sax propels this slow ballad over the line from “good” to “great.” Our narrator’s once-faithful lover has abandoned her, and Alicia’s despair is palpable. “Still the same old story, a game played by fools. No reason, no mercy, just a visit with these blues….” Afterward comes eerie silence: for Maxwell because her paramour is gone, and for listeners because the entire album is over.
Other musicians featured on the CD and supporting Maxwell are John Thomakos on all tracks except the tenth, and Garrick Alden on bass for all songs except the sixth. Happy New Year, readers, and as 2012 draws to a close, “Get Your Priorities Straight” and give Alicia’s latest album a try!

Reviewer Rainey Wetnight is a 33 year old female Blues fan. She brings the perspective of a younger blues fan to reviews. A child of 1980s music, she was strongly influenced by her father’s blues music collection.

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