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Janis Martin

The Blanco Sessions

Cow Island Music

You can be forgiven if you haven't heard of her. Female rockabilly singers, outside of Wanda Jackson, are pretty rare. But when a performer is as gifted as the late Janis Martin, your ears perk up. These last sessions, produced by the legendary roots singer Rosie Flores and Big Sandy drummer Bobby Trimble, are as fine a eulogy as you'll ever experience. Martin, known in the day as the "female Elvis," was a star during the '50s, with songs such as "Will You, Willyum" and a version of Roy Orbison's "Ooby Dooby," and while her secret marriage and child sidetracked her career, she never stopped singing.

The Blanco Sessions were recorded in two days in 2007, but Martin died of lung cancer only a short time later, delaying the release of the record until now. The woman behind the mic was very much alive on these 11 tracks, make no mistake! Flores and Martin picked some great songs: Dave Alvin's "Long White Cadillac" and Patsy Cline's signature "Sweet Dreams," among others, and Martin's delivery can make you forget that "other Elvis." These aren't sedate versions of '50s songs, no sir. She sings as if she was still on the Louisiana Hayride, and when she does "Wild One (Real Wild Child)" she gives Iggy a run for his money.

This record was a labor of love for Rosie Flores, an attempt to bring some measure of attention to one of her idols. She brought in Kelly Willis for a duet on "Walk Softly on this Heart of Mine," but Janis Martin didn't need any help -- she was the real deal. Take a spin of The Blanco Sessions and find out for yourself.

Cow Island Music: cowislandmusic.com