Rachel Nagy is a strong, sexy frontwoman. Her vocals canter, strut, and shimmy with the knowing look of the much-adored half coquettish tease, half jaded indifference. She coos to the rocked-up Latin swing of "My Delight," swings her hips with rockabilly swagger on "If You Don't Think," and dives deep into the smoky '60s garage-soul of "Puppet on a String," all off the Cobras' latest, Tied & True. The title is a play on the frequent complaint that the Cobras don't write their songs, instead digging up vintage (usually forgotten) gospel and soul, reworking it (sometimes) in a modern context. Issues of authorship were once considered separate from musical quality. Certainly, the Cobras demonstrate an ear for a classic, as well as a terrific touch live, led by Nagy and longtime guitar sidekick, Mary Ramirez. The albums, it's worth noting, are a much different animal from their live shows, which rage like a caged animal or a small, petulant child. Stand back or be overcome with their sultry fever, swooning to the floor beneath their Stax attacks. Underestimate them at your own risk.
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