It’s hard to believe, but there was once a time when the idea of women who would rock—really rock—seemed to some to be an alien concept. That changed, of course, with the emergence of groups and artists like the Runaways, the Go Gos, the Bangles, Melissa Etheridge, Bonnie Raitt, and Samantha Fish, individuals who surged to the forefront of the contemporary soundscape while achieving an iconic status, rivaling that of their male competition.
Belgium-born blues guitarist Ghalia Volt also reached that high bar. She achieved special distinction with her last album, Mississippi Blend, a collaboration with such iconic all-stars as Cody Dickinson, Cedric Burnside, Lightnin’ Malcolm, and Watermelon Slim. Once a busker on the streets of Brussels, she’s now an up-and coming contender who capably plies her wares within contemporary roots realms.
With her latest effort, One Woman Band, available January 29, she carries her ambitions several steps further by opting to operate almost entirely solo. She eschews all but minimal instrumentation, sticking instead to slide guitar, snare, a kick drum, hi-hat and tambourine, with only occasional assistance on a handful of songs from guitarist Mike Welch and bassist Dean Zucchero. Nevertheless, Volt manages to render the music with fullness and finesse, her sizzling fretwork filling in the spaces and ensuring a consistent dynamic throughout. Recorded last November at the legendary Royale Sound Studios in Memphis, the hallowed setting for classic recordings by Al Green and Willie Mitchell, the new album is nothing less than a tour- de-force.