After the success of her last album Lights Out Zoltar!, you might expect Gemma Ray to release a safe follow up — but this is where you would be wrong. For the most part, this is a good thing.
It’s A Shame About Gemma Ray (a nod to The Lemonheads album) is a series of cover versions of some of her favorite tracks ranging from Etta James to Sonic Youth via Lee Hazlewood, Mudhoney and Buddy Holly. She recorded them with Matt Verta-Ray at his New York studio between Christmas and New Years Eve of 2009/20010. Ray’s dark, brooding voice and the western blues style in which most of the songs are performed actually adds another dimension to most of the tracks with the exception of Everyday, which is really slowed down and sung in such a way that it just falls flat.
The rest of the album easily makes up for this misstep with selections like Sonic Youth’s Drunken Butterfly performed to the music of Rosemary’s Baby or Cy Coleman’s Hey Big Spender which almost ventures into Portishead trip-hop territory. Other intriguing takes on classic tunes include Mudhoney’s Touch Me I’m Sick, which sounds like it could have been an outtake from the Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me soundtrack, and Memphis Minnie’s Looking the World Over, which would make George Thorogood proud with it’s driving guitar and catchy beat.
Over all, this album is a nice collection of interpretations of some of Gemma’s favorites but I would rather hear working her magic on some new original tunes. It’s a Shame About Gemma Ray is definitely worth the listen but probably won’t be a purchase for all but the die hard fans. Being that Gemma Ray is still in her early 20′s, I have hope that we have many years of great music to look forward to from such a gifted artist.
Gemma Ray Website!