Album Review: Ali Holder & The RainDoggs: 'Red to Black'
Earlier this year, Austin singer/songwriter Ali Holder released her album Red to Black in what would later be seen to be an unfinished version. Seeing as her usual horn player and side man Brent Cagel had embarked on a European tour and been perusing other projects, Holder decided to forge ahead herself, crafting Red to Black without the help of her brass virtuoso on board. But once Cagel returned from his European tour, Holder realized that his presence on the recordings were missed, and enlisted him to add brass arrangements to the album that was already thought to completed. Holder released the newly arranged record with her band The RainDoggs on October 17th, raising the question: did she make the right move in having Cagel add brass arrangements.
After just one listen to the album, the answer to this question is clear: a resounding yes. While the rest of Holder’s band provides a more than proficient backing for her sultry alto, the brass arrangements present throughout each of Red to Black’s nine tracks provides the album with a certain cohesion that would’ve been missed without them. These horns especially shine on opening track “Struck in RED,” where, after a few seconds of radio squall, Cagel blasts a simple, yet perfectly fitting introductory line. The brass also lends nice touches to “black,” the albums closing instrumental track.
Though the band’s arrangements certainly add to the listening experience of Red to Black, the star of the record is truly Holder’s voice. She brings sophistication and experience to her vocal performances, and the diversity that she displays throughout the album is impressive to say the least. She croons through laid-back tracks like “Does She Do You Right?” and “What Have You Done to Me,” while delivering more up-beat tracks like “Was it Necessary,” and “Daddy, May I,” with more bite.
If you’ve been looking for the next big think in blues, look no further: it’s Ali Holder & the RainDoggs.