My first exposure to British singer/songwriter Gemma Ray was her 2010 release “It’s a Shame About Gemma Ray,” in which she offered up stripped-down cover versions of songs by artists as varied as Buddy Holly, Mudhoney, Etta James and Obits. It’s a truly mesmerizing platter and prompted me to seek out her earlier work. Needless to say, I’ve been a fan ever since.
Ray’s 2012 release “Island Fire” took a little while to grow on me, but she’s back at the top of her game on latest full-length “Milk for Your Motors.” It’s quite an accomplishment, with Ray showing off her entire bag of tricks over the course of 13 uniformly strong tracks.
Blues gem “The Wheel” launches the slab, and Ray struts her stuff on keepers “Shake Baby Shake,” “The Right Thing Did Me Wrong” and lovely “Long Live This Life.” Things take a darker turn on the back side of “Milk for Your Motors” and Ray lays bare her soul on standouts “Desoto,” “Out in the Rain,’ “Rubbing Out Your Name” and “You Changed Me.” If Gemma Ray still isn’t on your musical radar, it’s high time you remedy that. (Jeffrey Sisk)