Picks and Pans Review: Gatorhythms

updated 05/15/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 05/15/1989 AT 01:00 AM EDT

Marcia Ball

The zydeco-Cajun-anything-from-Louisiana craze has been a largely male-dominated phenomenon, so it's a particular pleasure to hear Ball wailing into such New Orleansian songs as "How You Carry On" by Dr. John and Seth David, "Red Hot" by Lee Roy Parnell and Cris Moore and "Mama's Cooking," a paean to red beans and rice that Ball herself wrote with Stephen Bruton. But then it's a particular pleasure to hear her sing in general, whether she's leaning more toward Louisiana, where she grew up, Austin, Texas, where she now lives or "Mobile," which she celebrates on this, her third really big-time album.

She has an intense, attacking style even on such relatively tame-tempoed songs as "The Power of Love" (which she infuses with an almost gospel sense of devotion even though it's about the earthly variety of love) or "Find Another Fool." And she benefits from the presence of three backup horn men, Keith Winking, Mark Kazanoff and John Blondell, who punch up the party-time atmosphere and play off effectively against her pound-nails-in-the-wall voice. At 39, Ball is old enough to sing knowingly of life's travails, and young enough to sound as if she has not been beaten down, an admirable combination she exploits as well as any singer around these days. (Rounder)

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