Ghalia & Mama’s Boys, “Let the Demons Out” (Ruf Records)

Ghalia & Mama’s Boys

Like so many aspiring European roots musicians, Ghalia Vauthier got hooked on American blues and rock ’n’ roll as a teenager, in her native Belgium. Since many a song referenced New Orleans, eventually she had to experience this mystical utopia for herself, and she migrated to the Crescent City for a deeper dive into all things enchanting. Along the way, she befriended Johnny Mastro & Mama’s Boys and they recorded two EPs and toured Europe together, where they piqued the interest of Ruf Records’ honcho Thomas Ruf.

Don’t think of this as a Mama’s Boys clone fronted solely by a female vocalist but rather as her auspicious, artistic statement. Vauthier wrote/co-wrote ten of these dozen tunes, which often run the gamut from love to steamy sex spiced with mystery and intrigue. The slightly spooky title track is a creative metaphor for expressing one’s feelings; the rock ’n’ roll blitzkrieg of “4AM Fried Chicken” fits the bill as the proverbial Louisiana foodie song.

Though Mastro & Mama’s Boys are normally known for their blistering, raucous sound, engineer David Farrell ensured Vauthier’s vocals remained front and center, a smart move since it’s she who exudes charisma. She can be haunting (“Addiction”), a tempest (“Press That Trigger”) and entertaining, as evidenced by the John Lee Hooker–styled “Hiccup Boogie.” When it came to time to let her demons out, Vauthier made sure there was nothing left for an exorcism.