Dana Gillespie has packed a lot of living into her sixty-five years. She’s been an actress, singer and songwriter. Her singing career began in the mid-sixties. Initially, Dana was a folk singer. Before long, Dana became a teen pop idol and  released her debut album, Foolish Seasons in1967. Since then, Dana’s musical career has continued to evolve.

During the seventies, Dana’s career moved in the direction of rock. This came about after Dana sang backing vocals on It Ain’t Easy, a track from David Bowie’s 1972 classic album, The Rise and Fall Of Ziggy Stardust and The Spiders From Mars. David Bowie and producer Mick Ronson realised Dana was a talented singer-songwriter. So, they produced Diana’s 1973 album Weren’t Born A Man. However, Weren’t Born A Man proved to be Dana’s only dalliance with rock. After that, Dana found her real musical love, the blues. Since then, Dana has been singing the blues. Here most recent album is Cat’s Meow, which was recently released on Ace Records.

Cat’s Meow is Dana’s comeback album. She hasn’t released an album since 2010s Rest My Case. However, Dana has been busy. That’s been the story of her career.

Throughout Dana’s career, she’s been much more than a singer. She’s successfully juggled a number of careers. Dana is a successful actress, whose appeared on stage and screen. Her screen debut was the 1966 film Secrets of a Windmill Girl. Since then, Dana has appeared in a  number of films and stage-plays. 

Without doubt, Dana’s highest profile role on the stage, was in the original London production of Jesus Christ Superstar. This was back in 1973, at the Palace Theatre. She played Mary Magdalene and appeared on the Original London Cast album. As you can see, Dana Gillespie means different things to different people. She’s an actress, singer and songwriter. Most people remember Dana as a singer-songwriter. No wonder, with over forty-five albums to her name. Cat’s Meow is Dana’s latest album.

For Cat’s Meow, Dana cowrote eleven tracks. Of these eleven tracks, she cowrote eight with guitarist Jake Zaitz. This includes Cat’s Meow, Love Matters, Especially Yours, Eureka Moment, Hands Of Hope, Love Moves, It’s Alchemy and Giving Out To Everyone. Dana, Jack and Evan Jenkins penned Last Chance Saloon. They also cowrote Two-Faced Girls with Artie Zaitz. The other tracks was Running Out Of Steam, which Dana and Jeff Walker wrote. These eleven tracks became Cat’s Meow.

Cat’s Meow was recorded at DD Studios London. Dana and Jake Zaitz produced Cat’s Meow. Dana’s band included a rhythm section of drummer Evan Jenkins, bassist Jeff Walker and guitarist Jake Zaitz. Artie Zaitz plays acoustic guitar, guitar, electric piano, organ, keyboards and percussion. Mike Paice played harmonica and saxophone, while percussionist David Malin added backing vocals. Once the eleven songs were recorded, they became Cat’s Meow.

After four years away, Dana Gillespie was back. Cat’s Meow was her comeback album, was released recently to critical acclaim. Britain’s Queen of the blues was back with Cat’s Meow, which I’ll tell you about.

Opening Cat’s Meow is the title-track. As the rhythm section provide the arrangement’s heartbeat, a guitar chirps, blues harmonica blows and a saxophone rasps. The arrangement is slow, moody, bluesy and understated. It’s the perfect backdrop for Dana’s vocal. She’s totally calm as she deliver the lyrics about pride and betrayal. He thinks he’s the Cat’s Meow, but Dana isn’t impressed and lets him know that.

A plucked bass, crystalline guitar and shuffling rhythm section open Love Matters. They provide the backdrop for Diana. Accompanied by braying horns and piano, she ensures the song swings. Her vocal is a sultry and needy as her band deliver jazzy backdrop. When the solos come round, each member of the band enjoys their moment in the spotlight. They’re talented musicians who play a huge part in the tracks sound and success. 

Bursts of quivering, shivering, bluesy harmonica and a glistening guitar join the rhythm section, in setting the scene on Eternally Yours. Having set the scene for Dana, her vocal is slow, sultry and sassy. All the time,  her band create the perfect bluesy backdrop. This allows Dana to deliver one of her sultriest and finest vocals on Cat’s Meow.

As Dana delivers a tender, pensive vocal on Eureka Moment, her band create a slow, spacious arrangement. Chirping guitars, stabs of grizzled horns and the rhythm section combine. They leave plenty space within the arrangement. So does Dana. By doing so, her vocal is really effective. It’s breathy and needy as she breaths meaning and sass into the lyrics. 

A probing bass and the drums combine with Dana’s vocal on Last Chance Saloon. She’s far from happy as she sings: “I had my fill of your crazy ways…you’d better shape up or ship out, not a moment too soon, ‘cos you’re standing in the Last Chance Saloon.” Dana means what she says, as she delivers a despairing vocal. Meanwhile, her band provide a bluesy backdrop that swings. Especially when the rhythm section and bluesy harmonica combine with guitars. They’re yin to Dana’s yang.

Hands Of Hope has a tough, bluesy sound. This comes courtesy of bursts of blistering guitars, washes of Hammond organ and the rhythm section. They set the scene for Dana’s vocal. She’s fearless. The reason for this is she’s been: “Rescued by the Hands Of Hope.” Dana can’t quite believe this. So much so, that she sings; “It’s still a mystery to me,  I must confess, how you heard my S.O.S.” Bluesy, soulful and with a gospel twist, this shows the many sides of Dana Gillespie.

Love Moves has a soulful, jazz-tinged sound. The arrangement meanders along, with the rhythm section, guitars and percussion accompanying to Dana’s heartfelt, soulful vocal. Subtle bursts of saxophone interject and guitars chime. All the time, percussion marks time as Dana’s delivers some beautiful lyrics, including: “Love Moves even mountains.”

Running Out Of Steam sees a return to a much more bluesy sound. The rhythm section, guitars and washes of Hammond organ lock into a bluesy groove. They’ve set the scene for a despairing Dana, as she sings: “oh I’m running out of love… I’m running out of patience… I’m running out on you.” When her weary, despairing vocal drops out, guitarist Jake Zaitz delivers a blues guitar masterclass. This seems to spur Dana on as she breathes life and meaning into the lyrics.

Percussion and drums open It’s Alchemy. They’re joined by shimmering guitar and Dana’s sultry vocal. As guitars shimmer, the rhythm section provide an understated backdrop. Washes of Hammond organ sweep in.  Later, Jake Zaitz delivers another stunning guitar solo. This is the finishing touch, as a lovestruck Dana delivers a needy, breathy, sensual vocal.

A carefully strummed guitar and wash of Hammond organ accompany Dana on Two Faced Girls. Before long, Dana is delivering an angry, frustrated vocal. She’s frustrated at a younger woman having stolen her man. She takes her aim, and vents her spleen at those “Two Faced Girls” who “shake their hips and purse those lips, then move in for the kill.”Later, Jake Zailz delivers another stunning guitar solo as Dana and her band kick loose.

Closing Cat’s Meow is Giving Out To Everyone. It’s a slow, spacious track, where the band allow Dana’s vocal to take centre-stage. Her mid-Atlantic vocal is accompanied by gently rasping horns, keyboards and glistening guitars. Before long, Dana’s vocal is growing in power and drama. She delivers a spellbinding, soulful performance that ensures Dana closes Cat’s Meow on a high.

After four years away, Dana Gillespie makes a welcome return with Cat’s Meow, which was recently released by Ace Records. Cat’s Meow is very much a return to form from Dana. Accompanied by a tight, talented band, Dana Gillespie combines  blues, jazz and soul on Cat’s Meow. Considering Dana has made a name as a blues singer, she’s equally comfortable delivering jazz and soul. That’s no surprise. During Dana’s near fifty year career, Dana has been a musical chameleon.

Over the last fifty years, Dana has sung everything from folk, pop, rock, jazz, soul and blues. However, it was as a blues singer Dana Gillespie made her name. She’s been singing the blues for over forty years. That’s what Dana Gillespie was born to do. She breaths life and meaning into the lyrics. Hurt, heartbreak, despair, frustration and anger come to life when Dana sings. Other times, Dana’s vocals are joyous, heartfelt, impassioned, sensual and sassy. On Love Moves, Dana comes across as lovestruck. Sometimes, Dana kicks loose, strutting and swaggering her way through tracks, making them her own. One thing that we can say, is that no two songs are the same. 

That’s what music lovers have come to expect from Dana Gillespie. She’s without doubt one of the most versatile artists of the past fifty years. Dana Gillespie reinvented herself several times. Then she found the blues. That was over forty years ago. Since then, Dana Gillespie has released over forty albums. Her latest album Cat’s Meow, is a reminder of why Dana Gillespie is Britain’s blues Queen.



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