When COVID-19 hit, musicians had to figure out what to do with themselves. After all, what is one to do when bands are not allowed to gather or tour? For Ghalia Volt, the answer was simple: become a one-woman band. While her previous albums were with a band, performing solo was not foreign to her since she had spent some time busking in her native Brussels.
The notion of a one-woman band occurred in March 2020, when she started playing a drum kit while playing guitar and singing. A series of shows across Mississippi confirmed that Volt could do everything she needed by herself. The new album One Woman Band was born when Volt rode Amtrak for a month and used her time on the trains as an extended writing session. One thing is evident from the very first notes. This is a woman that has absorbed the blues.
While this is a blues album, Volt doesn’t focus on any particular type of blues. She does a pretty good job giving a different sound and feel in each song. “Last Minute Packer” is a foot-stomper with a dirty guitar sound and a primitive beat that sound like something on a release from Voodoo Rhythm Records. That is followed immediately by “Espiritu Papago,” a song where the slide guitar gives the song a sort of trance blues feel.
At times during the album, the guitar sometimes sounds like R.L. Burnside. Other songs like “Reap What You Sow” have the feel of an Elmore James song. No matter the style of a particular song, Volt ties it all together with her unique vocals. She has clearly been baptized in the blues, but she could just as easily sing soul or rockabilly.
It’s fitting that these songs were created from traveling because these songs make you want to get into an old convertible and get on the road to somewhere. The destination wouldn’t matter as long as this was at least part of the soundtrack.