Opening With “Hard, Oh Lord,” the 35-minute long record is a step away from the primarily acoustic changes of Odetta’s solo work and includes the jazz standards of Buck Clayton on the trumpet as well as Vic Dickenson on the trombone. Nearly every horn player here comes into contact with Herb Hall on the clarinet who focuses less on the rhythm, and more on the sporadic punches of improvisation.
As the piano from Dick Wellstood introduces himself, the bass and drums are slapped as swing eighth notes by Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Berisford Shepard on the bass and percussion. Together through this mechanized monster, Odetta is a force of immense drowning intensity.
The waters cascade with “Oh, My Babe” where Odetta is soulful and spends less time on the guitar and more behind the shroud of orchestrated horns to guide her through this mist of misery. Simply beautiful even amongst the sadness, Odetta explains, “My heart’s down it’s a shame, and I just can’t call his name. Then I’ll ask to let me come back home,” as the piano from Dick Wellstood protrudes forward. Easily put, Odetta is this shameful display that begins to tower toward the end with this booming vocal performance as mercy pours over like a broken dam.
The swinging relates more to “Make Me A Pallet On The Floor” where Odetta is challenged by the low-tuned Dickenson trombone as this rivaling figure in performance. Instead of pushing to be overpowering though, Odetta frankly makes an appearance that rivals the arrival of Aphrodite, a goddess of love. Through her vocal stand, Odetta immediately makes her presence known and gives little in form of being able to conquer over her.
And that continues for most of the ideology behind Odetta And The Blues, she feels comfortable in this low sitting place behind the microphone as the acoustics pour over like flaming rounds from a cannon. Sunken to a level seemed unthinkable, Odetta is a staple in the blues sound without pertaining directly to what the audience wants. Instead, she gives what is needed and a prescription for those Weeping Willow Blues.