ALBUM: Mahalia Barnes & The Soul Mates ‘Ooh Yea!: The Betty Davis Songbook (Featuring Joe Bonamassa)’

An album of Betty Davis covers featuring guitarist Joe Bonamassa - blues rock-tastic!

Growing up between Scotland and Australia, the ‘Barnes’ name is one I am well familiar with. Indeed, anyone visiting Australia or taking an interest in Aussie music would be hard pressed not to have heard the music of Mahalia’s dad Jimmy Barnes or that of his band Cold Chisel.

However, this is Mahalia’s moment and having heard her sing live along with her mother, Jane, as part of the Jimmy Barnes touring band I knew she had a voice of her own worthy of recognition. Accompanied by her own band, The Soul Mates, this album features virtuoso blues/rock guitarist Joe Bonamassa as the ensemble cover a selection of 1970s songs from the songbook of Betty Davis.

Opener ‘If I’m In Luck I Might Get Picked Up’ gets proceedings underway and the listener is left in no doubt this album is going to be bluesy rock at its best with a killer vocal. ‘Steppin In Her I. Miller Shoes’ continues in the same vein, with Bonamassa wasting no time highlighting his prowess while Mahalia lets rip with a vocal style reminiscent of her father at times. ‘In The Meantime’ follows and as Mahalia sings “in the meantime I don’t have no-one” – in this soulful number her delicate tone melts through the air-waves. ‘He Was a Big Freak’ is one of my personal favourites on this album, with the vocal and guitar complementing one another perfectly.

‘Game Is My Middle Name’, with its backing vocals, and ‘Nasty Girl’, with a real funky feel and groove to it as Mahalia showcases her powerhouse vocal, are two standout tracks from this album. Upbeat title track ‘Ooh Yeah’ is another winner with the deep male vocal adding to Mahalia’s own. ‘Anti-Love Song’ is anything but with Mahalia sounding “sex-on-legs” throughout with the vocals turning to gentle whispers at times. ‘Walking Up The Road’ has a very recognisable Barnes sound to it and I am sure I can hear Mahalia’s dad, Jimmy, and his trademark screech in the background (maybe not)… But for that reason alone I love it. ‘Shoo-B-Doop And Cop Him’ closes out the album with a slow hypnotic groove.

If guitar driven blues, rock, funk accompanied by sexy female vocals is your thing, this is an album you will love from the off… Highly stimulating.

Ooh Yea!: The Betty Davis Songbook is released on 23rd February via Mascot Label Group.

Bazza Mills


Bazza Mills
G'day my name is Bazza Mills! Whilst my wife watches reality TV shows, I enjoy listening to music, going to gigs and taking some photos. Growing up between Scotland and Australia exposed me to a variety of music and my tastes range from The Stone Roses to Guns N Roses. Typically, I love most things guitar based and have a love for live music and photography!