Tiffany Pollack & Eric Johanson, “Blues in My Blood” (Nola Blue Records)

pollack-johannsonTiffany Pollack and Eric Johanson are literally long lost cousins who connected later in life. Since both already had their mainstay gigs–Johanson entrenched in blues, and Pollack a jazz singer–they managed to do only two acoustic gigs publicly before embarking on this recording with producer Jack Miele. Instead of replicating their acoustic duo baseline, Miele surrounded them with a full studio band (including keyboardist John Gros) for a bigger, rockier sound. Johanson’s certainly a contributing factor to the attack, with his frequent blazing guitar playing. When he’s not on the electric, he often plays a resonator steel-bodied slide guitar for a mystical delta flavor. 

As delightful and non-indulgent Johanson’s playing is, it’s really Pollock who’s the heart and soul of these proceedings. She’s an often-stunning vocalist, loaded with uncanny raw power and chilling vibrato, as evidenced by the haunting “Michael,” that’s told from a mortician’s perspective. Though “Blues in My Blood” has the ambience of a midnight bayou séance, it’s unabashedly autobiographical in nature.

Johanson turns in commendable vocal performances as well, like “Slave of Tomorrow” and the slow-cooking “Memories to Forget” that’s spiced with Johnny Sansone’s burning harmonica solo. “Get Lost With Me” feels like a classic, bluesy standard, with some of Johanson’s most inspired guitar playing. Yet, the album’s biggest surprise is none of the above but the rendition of folk icon Pete Seeger’s “If I Had a Hammer” that slinks to its own jazzy groove. But enjoy this while you can. Who knows if there will ever be an encore for such a one-off affair?