Music Critic Mike DeGagne Gives "Buddha" 4 Stars!

Reviewed by: Mike DeGagne, Freelance Music Critic, AllMusic
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Paula Boggs’ unique voice, sharp and witty writing, and knack for producing slick melodies and jazzy-bluesy rock music is enlightening to say the least. Her music is folksy at times, pop-like at others, and balanced out by some charming mid-tempo stuff that is quite refreshing. On A Buddha State Of Mind, her latest release, there’s a little bit of everything to choose from. Playing acoustic guitar, her material is part Janis Ian and part Carole King, with a wee bit of Tracy Chapman thrown in on the vocal end of things, but her authentic voice makes all of her work sound genuine, modern, and reflective.
Her album kicks off with a pair of tunes titled “A Buddha State Of Mind” and “Peel The Charade”, which highlight her tender yet powerful singing talent and nestles in amongst some great melodies, easy rhythms, and original lyrics that are intelligent and poignant without sounding pretentious. There’s a sort of “coffeehouse” feel to her music, but only in the comforting sense, as her material is far beyond the amateurish level. “Miss Ruby Kirby Blues” has a familiar sounding blues romp to the beat and to the rhythm, but Boggs’ voice gives the tune an edgier feel and a down-home type of essence to the entire play out of the song.
There’s a great easy-going rock thrust to “Look Straight Ahead”, helped along by some effective cymbal crashes and a catchy hook in the guitar lines. Here, Boggs sounds excellent, boosting the slow incline of the song’s progression with her singing, and then giving way to some nice guitar work at the song’s finale. “Someone Else” has a sweet tenderness to its flow and to Boggs’ poetry of love and loss. Soothed by the tender, mellow guitar and piano, this track packs both passion in her voice and a disheartening air in the lyrics, as the song centers around “finding out” that your love has found someone else.
“Blue”, a piano guided ballad of vocal zeal and sincere lyrical outpouring has Boggs sounding her finest. With the lonely piano painting the backdrop, Boggs’ singing plays along nicely with the melody and accentuates certain words at just the perfect time. “Finer Thread” is another impressive rock song with a blues/rock backdrop, including more noticeable guitar playing that mimics a Dire Straits type of feel at times. The following track, “Rock and Roll” changes gears a bit, as Boggs covers the Led Zeppelin classic with a slightly half-paced rockabilly cadence. It’s kind of a bluesy number, but with the time signature changing completely from the original, Boggs ends up putting a unique spin on the hard rockin’ classic that’s interesting and out-of-the-ordinary to say the least. “Toll The Bell” is another slow piece heightened by some beautiful violin playing, while “Traces Of You” has a dream-like effect in its wavy melody and laidback advance. The album ends with “Original Sin“, a decent number that involves more wonderful guitar work and an appealing tempo.
The whole of A Buddha State Of Mind is invigorating and refreshing, and sounds professionally innovative in its song craft and musical composition. Paula Boggs gives each of her 12 tracks a personality of their own, and her album makes for a charming listen from start to finish. There’s sure to be more to come from this talented songstress in the near future.
Review by: Mike DeGagne Rating: 4 Stars (out of 5)

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