Roberta Donnay & The Prohibition Mob Band: Bathtub Gin

While associated with Dan Hicks as his go-to backup singer, Roberta Donnay is carving a niche for herself in her own right, taking the feel, songs and swagger of the Depression era and not only revisiting the material, but bringing up some new ones that have the same sepia tones. Here, she’s teamed with John R. Burr/p, Sam Bevan/b, Michael Barsimanto/dr, Rich Armstrong/brass, Sheldon Brown/reeds and Wayne Wallace/tb along with some cameo guests for a swinging and two stepped affair.

Her voice is a mix of Betty Boop and Mildred Bailey, and she makes it as expressive as needed, swinging with the Ellingtonianhorns and Krupa-inspired drums on “Why Don’t You Do Right” or the honky tonking “ (We’ve Got To) Put The Sun Back In The Sky.” She creates a glorious pastel atmosphere with the reeds on “Smile” and has an audible wink in her eye on “Horizontal Mambo.” He vibrato is as rich as Sidney Bechet’s as she lets loose on “I Gotta Right To Sing The Blues,” and even modern “retro” music such as the title track and the Tin Pan Alley-inspired “Just What The Doctor Ordered” with Nicolas Bearde guesting on the duet  sounding like it was made for your Philco.Donnay makes the old sound new, and the new tunes sound timeless. Is she heading to LA soon Hicks-less?

Motema Records


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