Home Read Albums Of The Week: Sue Foley | One Guitar Woman

Albums Of The Week: Sue Foley | One Guitar Woman

THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE:Sue Foley’s One Guitar Woman is a moving tribute to the female pioneers of guitar — the women whose music and lives delivered the inspiration and paved the way for those that followed. Sue honours artists spanning a spectrum of styles. As she writes in her liner notes, “They were massively talented, and they all possessed courage and vision which transformed both their cultures and the story of the guitar.”

True to the album title, Sue performs all these songs with one guitar. While fans are used to seeing her playing her iconic Fender Telecaster Pinky through her Bassman amp, for this album she chose a nylon-string acoustic guitar: A flamenco Blanca made by master luthier Salvadore Castillo, purchased by Sue on a 2022 excursion to Paracho, Mexico.

One Guitar Woman’s first single is Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie, a delicately nuanced track from Elizabeth Cotten. Sue captures the playful yet plaintive tone of the original, but doesn’t imitate the voice of Cotten, who didn’t record until she was elderly. “Oh Babe It Ain’t No Lie is one of my favourite songs to play on guitar,” Foley says. “I just love that Piedmont fingerpicking…

“Cotten had an original guitar style, as she played left-handed and upside down, so her songs are not easy to tackle. She also had such charm and character in her voice, and wit in her lyrics. Her songs can be challenging to learn but they’re always so fun and satisfying when you figure them out. This one just makes me smile every time I play it.”

The album also covers the hard-driving Memphis Minnie and icons like Maybelle Carter and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, as well as heroes like French classical guitarist Ida Presti, Tejano sensation Lydia Mendoza and the overlooked Charo. Lesser known but equally compelling are Southern blues women Geeshie Wiley and Elvie Thomas. All in all, the 12 tracks of this album pay deference to eight female guitarists.

The album features Foley’s songwriting as well as her guitar playing and singing. Maybelle’s Guitar is a new composition that incorporates the Carter Family matriarch’s signature guitar scratch, while telling the story of the vast influence and power of the Carters’ music. Mendoza’s Tejano classic Mal Hombre is performed in Spanish, but Foley contributes her own English verse. One Guitar Woman also includes two instrumentals: Romance In A Minor by virtuoso violinist Niccolò Paganini (derived from guitarist Presti’s interpretation) and Charo’s explosive flamenco La Malagueña.

Foley has released 13 albums and earned numerous awards, including the Blues Music Award for Traditional Female Artist of the Year, which she has won three consecutive times; she is nominated again for 2024.”