Los Angeles-based Kelly’s Lot celebrates 25 years of delivering West Coast Soul with a Texas Heart, an eclectic mix of blues, roots, rock & Americana with their 14th album, Can’t Take My Soul, containing 12 original compositions that highlights Kelly Zirbes’ smokin’ hot alto. The mix of original songs written by Kelly and her longtime partner in crime, guitarist Perry Robertson, speaks truth to the issues of the day, from our political climate and world struggles to tender matters of the heart, real-life inspiration and tragedy.
Kelly Z opens the album namechecking all her heroes from Muddy to Koko, and Buddy to Etta, on the rockin’ number “All I Ever Want Is The Blues.” She then gets right to the point urging us all to “don’t give up” on the political rebuke “All Hope Ain’t Lost.” The gently swinging blues “Alyssa” was inspired by a young woman born with a terminal illness, who defied the odds and lived to be 23 years old and became a medical pioneer as one of the world’s first to receive gene therapy for Canavan Disease. This song will live on as a loving tribute to her inner strength.
Eddie Baytos joins the crew on accordion and washboard for the Cajun dance party anthem “Woe Is Me,” adding authentic Louisiana spice to the rue. The testament of love, “Safe And Warm,” is delivered on a soft bed of acoustic underpinnings deftly delivered by this veteran band. The notorious French bluesman Jean-François Thomas (recorded by Martial Semonsut at Studio La Vallée in the Auvergne region of France) joins Kelly for a scalding duet “Rise Up (Leve-Toi)” sparing with her in French and English about the fire burning deep inside forbidden love and the Revolution. Frank Hinojosa adds some greasy blues harp to the slinky R&B groove of “Broke Myself.” The acoustic driven ballad, “Let It Breathe,” has that distinct bittersweet and dusty Laurel Canyon feel only Southern California musicians know how to deliver.
Kelly opens a vein and exposes all her depth on the dynamic call for redemption and self-preservation called “Dirt,” a simple title for an expansive and complicated song. She then goes back to her folk-singer roots on the sweet optimistic hymn “Little Bit Of This,” before busting out the rabble-rousing surf rock “Can’t Take My Soul.” We are transported to a sidewalk café in Paris for the final track of the album, ‘Mon Ami.” The lovely encore reveals a softer side of Kelly Z as she serenades us eloquently in French and then translates the images of love and devotion in English with graceful ease.
Can’t Take My Soul fully demonstrates the skills and variety in the repertoire Kelly’s Lot have developed over two and half decades performing as an acoustic duo, trio, an electric 5 to 8-piece that are now a mainstay on the Southern California music scene.