In the same methodical way she takes apart engines and makes them roadworthy again, Erica Blinn constructs American rock songs, one earnest melody at a time. She forces Midwestern air through beat-up harmonicas and hammers out sincere words that stretch and twist through her tunes. A guitarist/harmonica player/singer/songwriter, Blinn bends the rules of the blues like her heroes, The J. Geils Band (!), and knocks down walls of pop music to create an Americana rock & roll sound of her own. For her sophomore effort, Better Than Gold, it’s her third time working with producer/engineer Mike Landolt (Maroon 5, Blues Traveler), but her first time recording in Nashville. ”About half of the record was done in Columbus (Ohio) and about half of it in Nashville.” Blinn relocated from her hometown of Columbus to the incredible music community of East Nashville during the autumn of 2015. ”This album features a lot of the new friends we’ve made in Nashville, but the most special part for me was having my dad in the studio. He came up with the bass part for “Suzie” and drove down to Nashville to play it on the record.”
Having that kind of support and community in the studio translates well into the music. Opening with “Softer Side”, it’s a good start, as the song is catchy and memorable; a country-pop vibe with inflections of soul. In a different time, this is a quintessential single/radio track. “Dance With The One (Who Brought You Here)” is also upbeat; a good-time, beer on a Saturday night in a bar and out on the floor kind of moment; “Dreamer’s Heart” carries on in the same style – kicking, rocking (not dissimilar, soundwise, to The Wallflowers) and two things to be noted: the production is perfect for these performances: crisp and buoyant drums; a perfect balance of guitars and keyboards and Ms. Blinn’s voice is downright sultry at moments, while having that feel perfected by Bonnie Raitt. “Suitcases And Truck Stops” is a beautiful, slow and warm moment with tasteful guitar and a powerful melody; “Don’t You Be Lonely” is in a slow groove pace; again, soulful and her voice downright makes you ache at moments – and listen to those Memphis Horns-styled punches and “When I’m With Suzie (I Do What I Want)” is a sexy, sly, get down – an overheard conversation where Ms. Blinn caught the tag line via a drunken patron, “Hey! When I’m with Suzie, I do what I want!”, as a brown paper bag with tequila was being passed around – by connecting the dots, she came up with this gem.
A damned fine collection of 11 songs, sounding like a million dollar release, Erica Blinn’s second album shows that she has the goods as a writer and the chops as a performer. And with a bit of hope and a willing audience, Erica Blinn could be riding the charts soon enough – and deservedly so.
Better Than Gold is currently available