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Sugaray - Blind Alley

Self Release

10 Songs; 40:35 Minutes; Suggested

Styles: Soul, Blues, Gospel

For me, experiencing Sugaray’s wonderful, debut solo album has been a study of the Propinquity Effect. Explained by the Mere Exposure Effect, it holds that the more exposure a stimulus gets, the more likeable it becomes. For example, people generally like a song (or album) more after they have heard it a few times. After a few listens, this CD became very“likeable” to me. However, I first found, and still find, the first fifteen seconds of the first song to be startle reflex style nerve grating.

I can imagine an overly busy radio programmer or reviewer popping in a CD and listening to the first song. Upon hearing an opening of harsh cacophony, that person throws it in the trash and hollers, “Next.” That approach would be totally unfair, but, I am thinking, not unrealistic in this age of sensory and CD overload. Trashing the balance of this album would be tragic because it is chock full of exceptional artistry.

Texas born Caron “Sugaray” Rayford is a big man (6” 5”) with an equally big voice that superbly echoes Muddy Waters and Otis Redding. Growing up in Gospel and Soul, he switched to contemporary music in the San Diego area, singing lead vocals with Urban Gypsys. Soon giving his heart and soul to Blues, he next became lead vocalist for Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz, a Temecula CA Blues band. Aunt Kizzy’z Boyz won second place in Memphis 2006 at the International Blues Challenge.

After moving to Los Angeles, Sugaray met and played with innumerable world-class musicians. His solo career has flourished in LA, and he has done studio vocals on several projects. He has partnered with Chuck Kavooras, a long time LA guitarist and owner of Slide Away Studios who booked artists around Sugaray’s vocals. Kavooras produced and recorded this debut solo project. Sugaray states, “I am so grateful for the high caliber of talent [22 guest artists] that has played on this project.”

Each successive listen revealed the intricate layers of different genres and woven tapestry of diverse and exciting sounds behind Sugaray’s skilled singing adaptations. “Blind Alley’s"” ten songs feature two co-written by Sugaray, “Blind Alley” (Ralph Carter/ Rayford) and “I Sing the Blues” (Sugaray/Chuck Kavooras). It also contains a splendid collection of eight covers by Al Kooper, Blind Willie Johnson, Son House, B.B. King, Arthur Adams, and Joe Gorfinkle.

True deep Blues moments are found on tracks two and three, “Dark was the Night, Cold Was the Ground” and “Death Letter.” Audibly dedicated to Rayford’s late mother, the former features Chuck Kavooras on slide guitar with Sugaray moaning Gospel sorrow. After two minutes, a heart wrenching version of Son House’s "Death Letter" follows with Kavooras adding the best slide guitar since Jack White’s version.

“Blind Alley, the Soulful title, is a great Voo-Doo woman story. At seven minutes plus, this killer is laced with layers of keyboards, sax, trumpet, guitars, and backup vocals.

I swear I hear beautiful Beatles influences in Rayford’s slow and smooth version of Al Kooper’s “I Let love Slip Thru My Fingers.”
As fine of a Blues song as you’d ever want to hear is the slow and intricate “I Sing the Blues.” Sugaray co-wrote it with Kavooras, and once again it features a great lineup of musicians.

For his debut, Sugaray has split the uprights from 55 yards back! This CD is just loaded with wonderful sounds and music, more appreciated with each listen.

Reviewer James "Skyy Dobro" Walker is a noted Blues writer, DJ, Master of Ceremonies, and longtime Blues Blast Magazine contributor. His weekly radio show "Friends of the Blues" can be heard Saturdays 8 pm - Midnight on WKCC 91.1 FM and at in Kankakee, IL. To See James “Skyy Dobro” Walker's CD rating system, CLICK HERE

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