Christine Ohlman & Rebel Montez: The Deep End

RIYL: Etta James, Bonnie Raitt, Kim Lembo

She’s been appearing on albums since the early ‘70s, but if you know Christine Ohlman at all, it’s because of her long (and supremely beehived) stint as a member of the Saturday Night Live Band. Ohlman’s a tenured member of the New York City session crew that produced fellow TV vets like Paul Shaffer and G.E. Smith; it’s a group stocked to the brim with incredible musical talent, but – as Shaffer and Smith’s sporadic recordings attest – not the first place you look if you want to hear inspired songwriting.

Happily, Ohlman’s an exception to this rule, which might have something to do with why her sixth solo release, The Deep End, is crowded with an eyebrow-raising list of guest stars that includes Ian Hunter, Al Anderson, Dion, Marshall Crenshaw, and Levon Helm. Fifteen songs and nearly an hour in length, The Deep End has its perfunctory moments, but it’s as expertly played as you’d expect, and it hits its targets more often than not. In fact, it’s one of the few modern blues records that cops a convincing ‘tude and remembers to bring some real songs to the table. It might be tempting to look at Ohlman in her shades and towering hair, read hackneyed song titles like “The Cradle Did Rock” and “Everybody Got a Heartache,” and wave off the whole thing as just another wine cooler blues record, but don’t judge too quickly – The Deep End lives up to its title. Dive in. (Horizon Records 2010)

Christine Ohlman MySpace page


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