The best blues musicians roar most fiercely in a live setting.
That live muscle partially explains why “Cinderella,” the blistering new single from Seattle-based singer/songwriter/guitarist Julia Francis, is so damned kick-you-in-the-teeth great. And Artist Home proudly premieres it here, just in time for Bandcamp Friday (artists get 100% proceeds on all Bandcamp purchases today).
“Cinderella” was recorded in Columbia City, just prior to the onset of the COVID-19 Pandemic, as part of Francis’s forthcoming long-player, Live at the Royal Room. She composed the track some twenty years ago as a reaction to a fragmenting marriage, addiction, and a search for identity, and it covers time-honored blues-rock turf. Sexual desire, righteous anger, and unhealthy obsession collide headlong, with a sense of urgency that feels like it’s breathing hotly at the back of your neck.
Francis’s already powerful voice bursts forth in ragged and wounded fashion, her distinctive vibrato lending a tinge of mounting tension and fury to the mix. At one point she shouts, with blunt-force directness, “I just wanna screw!” And what could be empty posturing turns liberating, scary, and sensual as hell.
With that sexually-charged swamp witch’s howl at the fore, the players backing it had better bring the goods in a big way, and they do. Bassist Evan Flory-Barnes and drummer Mike Peterson bash out a pulverizing, lurching chug of a backbeat, as Mark Lutwak’s monster-movie organ whirrs in the background. Darren Loucas, meanwhile, attacks the song’s very catchy guitar melody with merciless licks that provide the missing link between gut-bucket blues and ear-scraping troglodyte garage rock.
It’s been a long time since I’ve heard a live track that’s this ragged and incredibly right. And if the rest of Live at the Royal Room packs even a fraction of the punch of “Cinderella,” expect it to be a monster.