Zola Moon Undercover
Review by Willard Manus

Last time out--two years ago, to be exact--the great blues singer Zola Moon released an album comprised of all-original songs, Wildcats Under My Skin. Now Zola has flipped the concept and put together an all-standards album, UNDERCOVER (except for the bonus track, The Serpent King, which she wrote herself). Doesn't matter if she's singing old or new ditties, Zola makes everything sound fresh and compelling. The L.A.-based singer truly knows how to bring the blues to life, infuse them with passion and relevance.
On UNDERCOVER Zola starts off with "I'm Tore Down," the lament of a jilted woman. Two more pain-filled laments follow, "Love in Vain" and "Walkin' Blues" (written and first sung by Robert Johnson), but then Zola shifts gears and belts out the angry, defiant anthem made famous by Janis Joplin, "Piece of My Heart." Zola prefaces her soaring version with these spoken words, "Are you ready, you evil bastards?"

The evil bastards in this case are men, of course. They are the target of nearly all of the fourteen songs in this album, having betrayed, abandoned and/or abused the women they've professed to love. The women might be victims but they are also survivors who are capable of fighting back, Zola reminds us, in songs like "Money (That's What I Want)" and "Breakin' Up Somebody's Home."

Zola also changes moods and lightens things up with such bawdy and rollicking numbers as "Rock Me Baby" and "Night Life." Throughout Zola gets strong help from her band, The Greasy Boys: lead & rhythm guitarist Michael "Monster" Carter, bass guitarist Eric "Easy Street" Williams, and Jerry "The Hat" Olson. They really cook and know how to help Zola put a song over.

(Cold.Dish@verizon.net or Zola Moon.com.)