2018 – Ruf Records
Release Date: Aug. 17, 2018
By Phillip Smith; July 28, 2018
Vanja Sky, one of the newest blues artists to join the Ruf Records family, takes no prisoners with her brand new album Bad Penny. It was just five years ago, this former pastry chef from Croatia picked up a guitar, and in the moment, she knew that being a musician was her destiny. Within two years, she was in a band touring Croatia, Slovenia, and Germany.
Recorded at Bessie Blue Studios in Statonville, Tennessee, and Studio Erde in Berlin, Germany, Bad Penny features Mike Zito on rhythm guitar, Terry Dry and Dave Smith on bass guitar, Matthew Johnson and Yonrico Scott on drums, and Lewis Stephens on piano/organ. She also enlists the legendary Jim Gaines (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Santana, Steve Miller, Miles Davis) to take on the tasks of engineering in Tennessee, along with Tobias Noethen who engineered the tracks recorded in Germany.
Vanja rocks out on a killer cover of Rory Gallagher’s “Bad Penny” for the title track. Her voice is strong and fearless. Her guitar licks are terrific. I get totally swept up in Zito’s outrageously infectious riffs. The blues are smokin’ with lots of great slide on “Low Down and Dirty”, which includes Bernard Allison alongside Vanja and Zito. It’s downright bodacious.
Shining brightly as a songwriter as well, Vanja penned ten of the dozen tracks on the record. Tender and poignant “Inside Pain” seems to float in mid-air in a beautiful performance. She totally rips it up on “Give Me Back My Soul”, a Texas style blues rocker with a theme most familiar to blues enthusiasts. It’s a favorite indeed. Like a Lucinda Williams tune, “Crossroads of Life” digs its fingernails in deep and packs a wallop of that great swampy sound of country blues. It’s brilliant.
Searing guitar licks along with Vanja’s amazing vocal stylings make Bad Penny one hot album, enjoyed start to finish with every listen. Vanja is currently touring with Mike Zito and Bernard Allison on the Ruf Records Blues Caravan. This is one show I don’t want to miss.
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