|When you hear the term “Southern Blues and Soul,” the sound of big horn sections and wailing guitars over a big beat comes to mind. The duo of Katy Hobgood Ray and Dave Ray reminds us there is a softer side to the music that comes up from the Delta. The pair spend equal time between New Orleans and Memphis, so their new release, “I Dream Of Water,” is a collection of ten songs reflecting that mixture of elements and influences. Because life in the Deep South is always at the crossroads, with one foot rooted in the past and the other working towards the future.
The sweet swing and whimsical title of the opening track, ‘Lollie Bottoms,’ hides the deeper meaning of this lamentation on the realities’ folks face living and working in precarious river valley regions and how water can be both its life blood and destruction. The theme continues on the hymn for lost souls ‘Washed Away,’ with Katy Ray delivering an emotional eulogy on the album’s strongest radio-ready track. The up-tempo shuffle, ‘Oh Devil,’ speaks of the dark days of the Jim Crow South with Katy’s vocals punctuated by gritty slide guitar and trumpet stabs. The ethereal title track, ‘I Dream Of Water,’ is set to sparse gently throbbing accompaniment from Chuck Dodson on keys and drummer Dave Hoffpauir, as Katy recounts a life lived in constant fear and preparation for doomsday, growing up in the floodplain.
Dave Ray joins her for a duet on the slow-rolling rumba, ‘House Divided.’ The song is both an examination of trouble between two lovers and the state of our nation today. Katy delivers a bittersweet testament for her beloved New Orleans on the gospel infused ‘Dirty Water,’ pulling no punches on who she blames for leaving the city to rebuild on its own. Greg Spradlin picks sweet dobro for Katy on a heartfelt reading of Lead Belly’s ‘Little Children’s Blues,’ giving a little zip to the tune the master recorded in the 1940s for Folkways Records. Trumpet from Scott Frock, and saxophone from Brad Walker, spice up the breezy track ‘Des Allemands,’ that recalls a road trip across the bayou south of New Orleans, for a family reunion in a small parish town. Dave Ray shares a few of life’s more important lessons on the loping blues, ‘That Really Matters.’ The final track of the album, ‘Kings, Queens And Jesters,’ is a bonus live recording with Katy sitting next to the piano in a smoky cabaret playing the role of Edith Piaf during the Great War, encouraging us all to celebrate the joie de vivre, (joy of living), while we still have time.
Recorded at Fellowship Hall Sound in Little Rock, Arkansas, “I Dream Of Water,” from Katy Hobgood Ray featuring Dave Ray is a sweet-sounding achievement from an artist who has made the unusual shift from writing and producing a successful series of children’s songs to a foray into adult contemporary music. The album proves they have the talent to speak to the hearts and minds of all ages.
Rick J Bowen
Dave and Katy met in 2001 at a songwriter’s night in Shreveport, Louisiana—their hometown. Both write songs in the Americana/folk rock/country vein. In 2003, the couple moved to New Orleans, and over the years they’ve continued to perform at coffeeshops and small venues, collaborating in various bands.
Dave and Katy are members of Friends of Leadbelly, a group of musicians dedicated to promoting the legacy of North Louisiana songwriter Huddie Ledbetter. And over the last few years, Katy has become known for her work in children’s music with Confetti Park and has performed at numerous festivals New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, French Quarter Fest, the Folk Art Fest, Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo, Beignet Fest, Creole Tomato Fest, and Red River Revel.
Katy also sings with Steve Howell & The Mighty Men out of the Ark-La-Tex area, who perform country blues and early jazz standards. This musical friendship was first established in 2002. (Both Dave and Katy sing on their album “Good As I Been to You.”) These are the musicians behind the new release, “I Dream of Water.”
In 2018, Dave and Katy took jobs based in Memphis, and are currently living between Memphis and New Orleans. They wrote this album with perspective and reflection on their experiences in their beloved Louisiana.
For her work in children’s music, Katy won a Parents’ Choice Award in 2016. She was recognized by the New Orleans Gambit among the 40 Under 40 class in 2016; in 2018, New Orleans Magazine included her in the People to Watch issue.