Lady Adrena ‘Recipe For The Blues’ EP Review

Lady Adrena draws from her various influences and writes songs reflecting her experiences and presents them with a confident swagger dipping into blues.

“The blues is not just a sound, it’s a feeling you can’t buy, you can’t duplicate or imitate. It’s either in you or not. I didn’t choose the blues… the blues chose me, and I have the recipe for your blues.” ~ Lady Adrena

Lady Adrena is a blues singer and songwriter who was born in Jackson, Mississippi: the “Home of the Delta Blues.” At the age of five, she was singing in County Line Baptist Church, following in the footsteps of so many great singers who cultivated their talent and love of music there. Aretha Franklin, Sam Cooke, Lou Rawls, Mavis Staples, Otis Redding, and Marvin Gaye along with so many others began singing in church.

“Blues and Gospel kind of go hand in hand. They both tell stories of happy times, sad times, injustices, and hope for better. On my musical journey I’ve learned that music is a universal language. One may not comprehend the language, but the heart and soul understands the music through emotions.” ~ Lady Adrena 

After her time singing in church and school choirs and being a percussionist in bands, Adrena begun her professional musical career in earnest by writing and singing Southern Soul music. Her debut in 2010, Thoughts Of A Woman, included her song, “No Ring No Thang.” In 2016 she released a Southern Soul release titled Better Days, recorded at the famed Royal Studios in Memphis under the direction of Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell.

Many practitioners of the Southern Soul R&B sound in the past like O.V. Wright, James Carr, ZZ Hill and their disciples, such as Johnny Rawls, blurred the boundaries between their music and traditional blues. In similar fashion, Lady Adrena draws from her various influences and writes songs reflecting her experiences and presents them with a confident swagger dipping into blues.

Lady Adrena found the direction to release a debut six-song EP on Sweet Success Records titled Recipe For The Blues. She is bolstered by the support of fellow Mississippi Blues artists Castro “Mr. Sipp” Coleman and Dexter Allen to focus the release squarely to the Blues genre, Five of the six songs are original compositions by Lady Adrena, culled from her life experiences. The sixth, the title track, being penned by Gene Munns, the President and Founder of Sweet Success Records LLC.

Lady Adrena provides a dramatic, yet enigmatic presence. Not a single reference to any of her fine supporting musicians appears on the CD packaging, or the press release.  

The bouncy opening track, “Blues Chose Me,” contains lyrics that seem to be at least partially auto-biographical. Adrena’s vocal builds in strength, until she is loudly proclaiming the song’s title. The musical stew is a tasty blend led by sharp guitar, swelling organ, and short, complementary horns.  

Adrena then slows it down on a late night blues ballad titled, “Borrow My Pans.” This is the first of the three tracks on the release produced by Dexter Allen. Adrena provides a beautiful crooning vocal, finely accompanied by piano, that displays her versatility.

“Working with, and producing Adrena is always fun. She always knows exactly what she wants to achieve in a song, and has the talent to see it through.” ~ Dexter Allen

“Traveling Woman,” also produced by the skilled multi-instrumentalist Dexter Allen is one of the EP’s highlights. Adrena sings her intentions right off the bat that, “she’s a traveling woman” and “can’t stay too long,” ’cause she’s “got to “get where she belongs.” The harmonizing female singers are used to fine advantage, and the stout beat and extra-nice retro R&B lead guitar that brings to mind B.B. King are very appealing. 

“Working with Dexter Allen in the studio, has been a learning experience. He taught me to reach deep down and sing from my gut.” ~ Lady Adrena

The snappy song, “Good Girl Gone Bad,”was produced by Mr. Sipp, and possibly it’s also his guitar that’s masterfully propelling the song along with an small horn assist. It’s another composition from which Adrena draws from her own life’s experience to create a song. Yes indeed, as she sings on the infectious chorus, “she’s just a good girl gone bad, and there ain’t no turning her back.” The combination of her lyrics, her sassy vocal, and the music of this one is head-bobbin’ heaven.

The background singers return to support Lady Adrena on “No Ring No Thing.” The lyrics quote the title in a straightforward statement from Lady Adrena about waiting for a wedding ring. No, she ain’t playing no games, y’all.    

The title track, a medium tempo blues with a tight groove nicely closes the release. It’s powered by a sweet, sassy soul-dripping vocal from Lady Adrena. As mentioned before, Adrena didn’t write thIs song, but she sure as shucks owns it big time. Innuendo references in lyrics go way back in blues songs, and some on this song could be construed as such. The guitar, organ and piano all serve the song very well, and are given room to groove. From the sum of the songs presented on this EP, the Lady is here to stay!

Lady Adrena ‘Recipe For The Blues’ EP Review