Sena Ehrhardt

Sena Ehrhardt
All In

Blind Pig Records

By Tony Del Rey
July 2013

Given Sena Ehrhardt’s carnal appeal to the male demographic, it seems odd that the old adage, “a good man is hard to find” might carry some truth - even for a sexy blues goddess! Yet unlike the sassy stage-strutting routine that marked her 2011 debut album, Leave The Light On, the singer’s new release, All In, sounds like the work of a woman who’s grown tired of being just another plaything for the boys.

Ehrhardt doesn’t spend a great deal of time dragging her feathers around over broken affairs. There’s plenty of nails and sass to go along with the spate of shunned affections that seem to have befallen her of late. Poor thing. Not surprisingly, All In is awash in frustrated female emotions.

Too bad Ehrhardt’s efforts at writing about those emotions register at the low end of the creativity scale. The half dozen originals she’s penned with guitarist Edward Ehrhardt (he’s her Dad) are formulaic and predictable: a distillation of ‘70s-flavored rock and hard-edged blues paved over with ninth chords to give things a funk feel.

Trouble is the rudimentary configuration of bass, guitar and drums providing back up for Ehrhardt’s wounded lover pathos simply isn’t enough to put static material like “Live and Learn,” “Man Up” and “Storm’s Coming” over with sustained conviction. But then again, even the most professional session players can only do so much with semi-professional song material.

Fortunately, the handful of cover tunes scattered among the album’s lesser lights afford All In its few shining moments. The best of these is the old soul ballad, “Cry To Me.” Best known as a Rolling Stones’ cover on 1965’s Out Of Our Heads, this lonesome tune packs as much raw emotional energy into a song as can be created by a basic line-up of rhythm section and singer. Nothing else on All In compels as much attention thanks in large part to the emotional fire written into its mournful lyric and strident melody by early-60s soul producer, Bert Russell. Ehrhardt’s version doesn’t quite match the primal energy present in most early Stones’ recordings. But then again, little else ever has.

There’s no doubt that Sena Ehrhardt possesses a face and body uniquely equipped to entertain. Presented with great material, she’s as competent a singer as you’re likely to hear working the club circuit. Only nominally could she be called a songwriter, however. Love may have taken its toll on Sena’s fragile emotions, but she’d be better served by letting some one else write about them.

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