Rosie Flores 'Working Girl's Guitar' - Bloodshot

The talented producer, songwriter, guitarist and singer has helmed her own 11th album. It is a wide ranging album that covers many bases, with touches of all the musical strands pulled into a colourful whole. The title track was written by Ritchie Mintz,  who made the remark to Flores when she wanted to sell him one of her guitars. The song is a testament to the places a guitar gets to go in its working life. It  also highlights Flores’ prowess as both a lead and rhythm guitar player which was evident on her previous albums, but here she takes centre stage.

Little But I'm Loud is a title that sums up Flores' outgoing attitude since she was a member of the Screamin' Sirens in the 70s. It features some fairly nasty guitar infused with a Texas blues attitude. Yeah, Yeah features some decisive pedal steel from Greg Leisz and is tender tribute to her late friend, guitarist Duane Jarvis.  Surf Demon #5 is what it implies; a surf-style instrumental with a swelling organ and a surfing guitar that has touches of a western feel too. Drugstore Rock 'n' Roll is for long-time Flores fans with her distinctive voice taking the Janis Martin cover into familiar territory. Rosie’s take on Love Must Have Passed Me By is a neat touch of nostalgia, a countrypolitan styled duet with Bobby Vee. The tempo picks up for Too Much,  a song to a man who is living up to the title.

That theme of longing and looking for love is also at the heart of If (I Could Be With You). The album closes with a well chosen cover of George Harrison's While My Guitar Gently Weeps, a song which one feels has a special resonance for Flores, who has been a guitar player for a long time and has used the instrument to express both sorrow and exuberance.

Flores has made some great records during her career, from her Pete Anderson produced eponymous debut  to this self-produced album. All credit to her resolve and skill to get things done the way she has wanted to. A real working girl all round.

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.