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Rory Block, whose fiery and haunting guitar/vocal attack redefines the boundaries of acoustic blues and folk, joins the Telarc label with the release of Last Fair Deal.
A longtime disciple and interpreter of traditional Delta blues, Block mines the roots music landscape in Last Fair Deal as only she can. Eight originals and six tasteful covers of early blues and gospel tunes find Rory at the absolute height of her creative powers, bringing a world full of life lessons to bear on what she calls "a total celebration of my beloved instrument and best friend, the guitar."
Last Fair Deal is a nearly even mix of original and cover material. It opens with Block's visceral and driving "Gone Again," a mostly instrumental track inspired by the power of a motorcycle engine pounding against the open road. Other noteworthy material penned by Block includes the gospel drenched "Declare" (inspired by the Book of Job), the poignant "Two Places at a Table" and the impromptu "Awesome Love."
In addition, she pays tribute to two Delta blues giants with a reverent cover of Son House's "County Farm Blues," and a more freewheeling version of Robert Johnson's "Last Fair Deal." The centerpiece of the 14-track set is the fluid, freeform version of "Amazing Grace," recorded in what Block calls "some bizarre tuning I'll probably never find again." The result is a fresh, mirror-universe rendition of one of the most stirring spirituals in the lexicon of American music.
Born and raised in Manhattan, Aurora "Rory" Block left home at age 15 to travel through the deep South and soak up the blues under the tutelage of Skip James and Mississippi John Hurt. By her 20s, she had developed aggressive slide and fingerpicking styles that garnered her a reputation as a brilliant technician as well as a gifted songwriter and performer. She made her first record, I'm in Love, in 1975 on the small Blue Goose label, then moved a few years later to the then-fledgling Rounder label, where she spent most of the '80s making records that simultaneously indulged her affinity for traditional country blues and served as a platform for her own formidable songwriting talents.
The ambitious recording and touring regimen started paying off in the early 1990s, with numerous awards throughout the decade. She brought home W.C. Handy Awards four years in a row—her most recent being Best Acoustic Blues Album (for Confessions of a Blues Singer) in 1999.
Block's story continues to unfold with her Telarc debut, Last Fair Deal. Crafting this recording opened new creative doors for her. "I stretched out, I wrote, I played, I practiced, reached new territory," she says. "I wanted the guitar to be an orchestra on its own."
Check out Last Fair Deal and hear a symphony of blues.