Janis Martin 'The Blanco Sessions' - Cow Island

With her contemporary Wanda Jackson making albums with Jack White and Justin Townes Earle, it is entirely fitting and welcome that this album, the last recorded work prior to her passing, should be available on a label that cares about the music it is involved with. The album has been a labour of love for co-producer Rosie Flores who,  along with drummer and co-producer Bobby Trimble, has helmed this project with one of her heroes and friends.

Flores and Trimble gathered a selection of players to do the project justice. These include guitarist Dave Biller, T Jarrod Bonta on piano and Sarah Brown on bass with brass and harmonica contributions that make for a full and fiery sound that is topped by an powerful performance from Janis Martin.  Martin’s sound here reflects both her age and her undiminished skill as a vocalist. What is a mystery is how, according to the sleeve notes, it took so long to actually get the album released (it was recorded in 2007). 

The title comes from the album having been recorded in a small studio in Blanco, Texas. In the end independent label Cow Island, with the help fans on Kickstarter, brought the album to release.

The eleven songs are full of vitality and passion and her versions of It'll Be Me, Wild One (Real Wild Child) and Long White Cadillac are in direct line with her work in the Fifties. Janis’ story and the background to the songs are outlined in the album liner notes. Equally she shines with emotive vocals on the slower Sweet Dreams  and also on the duet that closes the album, a mid-paced version of Walk Softly On This Heart Of Mine which she sings with Kelly Willis,  which also features some fine harmonica from Walter Daniels. Without doubt this is a fitting tribute to a pioneer of rock 'n' roll and to all those involved. It's just a great pity Janis Martin isn't around to see it released.