‘Blues with a backbone’ is the first album from the 14 year old Michaela Rae. The precocious teenager,like Joanne Shaw Taylor has been wowing blues audiences for a while now, and the album shows why.

Although a touch of nervousness can be sensed in the vocals, the guitar playing throughout is assured, and a mature and experienced touch brings an evolved level of taste to the guitar playing.

The album is produced by Dave Beegle, who also plays rhythm guitar and keyboards on the album, whilst the rhythm section of bass player Michael Olson and drummer Matt Henderson add the right level of wallop to the songs.

An interesting arrangement of Booker T and the MG’s ‘Green Onions’ starts the album. The signature Hammond Organ riff is transplanted to the guitar, but it is still a good reading, featuring sound performances from all four players. Other songs include ‘Mary Had a Little Lamb’ and ‘SRV Shuffle’ is a good ending to the album.

Michaela Rae’s influences are clear, with nods to Hendrix, Stevie Ray, BB King, Steve Cropper, Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton on several songs, although at only 14 years old, she has produced an album that players a lot older would be pleased with. It will be interesting to see how she develops.