The 1962 soul-pop hit “You’ll Lose a Good Thing” and appearances on American Bandstand put Beaumont’s Barbara Lynn on the map as the world’s greatest (though perhaps only) left-handed female blues guitarist. That reputation has carried her ever since, despite just three new albums recorded over the past fifteen years—a scarcity that makes Hot Night Tonight all the more a joy to hear. More than half of the twelve tracks have “man” or “love” in the title (one notable exception is “Don’t Hit Me No More”), which should tip you off to the brand of R&B that Lynn lays down, owing more than a few debts to the vocal stylings of Tyrone Davis and the late Johnnie Taylor. But she’s more than all that. Lynn proves herself to be a thoroughly modern gal (by working off the hip-hop rap of her son Batchlor Wise Johnson on “You’re the Man”) as well as a guitarslinger in the great Texas tradition. When she tears off some blazing licks on “Lynn’s Blues” in particular, she effectively puts all the Jonny Langs of the world in their place. It’s all about tone, boys, not speed. Standout cut: “When Something’s Wrong,” the old Isaac Hayes composition—she sings it like she owns it.
From the October 2000 Issue Subscribe