Talkin' Fishbowl Blues

by Queen Esther

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“Not really a blues album, yet aptly tagged as ‘Black Americana,’ Manhattan-via-Austin super-side-woman Queen Esther melds roots. pop and R&B in a way that Lucinda Williams, Melissa Etheridge and Sheryl Crow never could on their best days.” - Amplifier Magazine

"Maybe you've heard Queen Esther singing the blues with James Blood Ulmer or Elliott Sharp. Maybe you saw her singing jazz in the theater production of Harlem Song. Either way, her proper debut album Talkin' Fishbowl Blues will take you by surprise. This record ROCKS! In her bio, she described her sound as "If Keith fired Mick and decided to let Tina Turner front the band with Gram Parsons riding shotgun," and that's actually right on the mark. There's a decidedly Stonesy swagger to many of these tunes with just a touch of twang, and Queen Esther shows herself to be just as versatile a vocalist as Tina, covering not only the lead vocals but nearly all the background vocals as well. She's got a great voice (four octave range), and maybe it's her theater background, but all her vocals (even the backing vox) are filled with passion and brimming with personality. She even adopts something close to Mick's country honk for the title cut. Queen Esther writes about what she knows: mostly being a young woman transplanted to New York City and relationships, but she's a keen observer and turns some great phrases throughout. The band is rock & roll basics: guitars, bass and drums -- and more guitars, and they play with just the right mixture of being together but playing loose. Jack Sprat's production is crisp but not glossy, and there's a freshness to the performances that implies they didn't play these songs to death hoping for the "perfect" take. There are guitars all over the place, including some tasty lap steel on "Taster's Choice," nice wet sounding tremolo guitar on "Get It Right This Time" and patented Keith Richards' riffs on "Talkin' Fishbowl Blues." "New York City" is built on an irresistibly funky groove, with sassy backup vocals and twangy slide guitars all over the top while Queen Esther just belts it out. But just when you think you might have Queen Esther's "Black Americana" sound figured out, she offers up the a cappella, gospel-flavored "Help Me," where she sings at least four parts, harmonizing with herself. Then she turns around and gives a straight reading of "Stand By Your Man"(!), even supplying her own cornball country choir for the backing vocals to close out the album. You'll have to set your preconceptions aside for this one. Queen Esther is active in the theater and performance art worlds, sings the blues, sings jazz with the JC Hopkins Biggish Band, and now has offered up a great rock & roll album. Is there anything this woman can't do?" - (4 out of 5 stars)


released September 30, 2004

Jack Sprat - producer

Queen Esther - vocals
Jack Sprat - percussion, guitar
David Lee - percussion, guitar
Marvin Sewell - guitar
Kelvyn Bell - guitar
Josh Roy Brown - lap steel guitar
Boo Reiners - bass, tic tac bass, guitar (acoustic/electric)
Tom Rickell - bass
Booker King - bass
Robert Warren - bass
Sebastican Steinberg - bass
Andy Sanesi - drums
Glenn Reynolds - drums
Clayton Craddock - drums
Craig Dreyer - flute
Ron Sunshine - harmonica
Sylvia MacCalla - background vocals



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Queen Esther New York, New York


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Track Name: Promise Me
Promise Me

Could you promise me a little more time
To turn the clock back in my mind
‘Til the spring collapses and you are mine
And the world disappears/and everything’s fine

The pretty flowers sing to me
They grow inside me carefully
You put them there so I could see
Everything you promised me

Until your voice stops ringing/in my head
Until I stop feeling close to you/for what’s unsaid
Until there’s no more reasons/to remember somethning you’d say
Until there’s no more yesterdays/That’s when you’ll go away

Until I see you again
Until that great getting up morning again

Could you promise me another way
To see you again without delay
I fall asleep to get to you right away
But could you promise me another way
Track Name: Shine

All I want to do is shine for You
And live my life underneath Your sun
You know that my heart is true
But there are moments when I come undone

I tend to fall down under the weight
When they ride on my mistakes
They can say what they will
They can do what they may

But I'm gonna shine/shine
Shine all the time
I shine because You are mine

Sometimes I don't know what I'm gonna do
And I don't know what I'm gonna say
But You love me and I love You, too
So it doesn't matter anyway

When I fall down in Your arms
I don't care who's right or wrong
When I'm with You I know that's where I belong

Since I don't know when
It's always been You and me
I guess that means that we're just meant to be
Just You and me
Track Name: Talkin' Fishbowl Blues
Talkin’ Fishbowl Blues

I left my fishbowl in the hands of so-called friends
And when I returned, I found all of my goldfish drowned
New York City stress level don’t turn me into what I hate the most

I been running around I been chasing the sky
Ducking the clouds trying to stay dry
I been laughing at fate trying to stay awake
Trying to get some sleep on a sleepless street

Oh, my loveless landlord says that all my neighbors complain
And the walls of ears have been hearing it all for years
New York City mind your business
Next time I will smash your stereo

I’m a blooming weed from an ugly seed
Sprung out of the mouth of a careless freak
I’m the sensitive kind, need my peace of mind
And my real estate is blown sky high

After forty hours you can barely keep your wit
It’s a party town but the wake up times ain’t it
New York City money magnet
Send your sacred cash cow to the slaughterhouse

I been out in the world I been up in the sky
I was riding on clouds just to keep alive
And you’re laughing at me trying to stay awake
Do you get some sleep on a sleepless street?
Track Name: Taster's Choice
Taster’s Choice

We used to turn on a dime
And then you’d turn on
And then you’d fall into me
I used to hold you in my arms
And wish that we were meant to be

You used to dance with me slow
in the kitchen with your wake-up
When you knew I had to go
You had to turn on turn on turn on/to live

Do you remember when we’d sleep the time away
We’d talk all night and then you’d say
We could sit and talk forever/and never see the light of day
I used to wonder if you would ever find a way

Not to turn on turn on turn on
Turn on turn on turn on
Turn on turn on turn on/to live

We were going nowhere
and we were happy when we got there
Because we both really wanted to stay
But when I finally wanted to get somewhere
and you could not be moved
I knew I’d have to be the one to walk away

You looked so happy to see me
I could hardly tell
You’d been gone so long
and been through so much hell
And you said you could feel things
you never thought you’d say
But there are moments when
you turn and taste again

You have to turn on turn on turn on
Turn on turn on turn on
Turn on turn on turn on/to live
Track Name: Love

Love’s a funny thing/that can make you feel so high
Love’s an awakening/that can make you live or die
Love can make you sing the saddest goodbye
Why I’ll never know but I know you know it’s so

Love, love me do/but don’t make me wait too long
You might miss the moment that could last our whole life long
Love disappears/and you don’t know what’s wrong
Why, you never say does it have to be this way

Oh, love goes and love comes again
Love finds a way/you never know when
When love passes by/Say hey love
Love, love, love

Love will live between us/until our dying day
Real love never dies/no matter what we say
No matter what you think/your heart wants you to stay
Why does what I say make you want to run away?

Love can really break you until you start to bend
When it finally shakes you/you never really mend
Shows you what you’re made of/until you depend
On love to make you over until the very end
Track Name: So Real
So Real

I’m gonna get a gun to kill my pride
Tell my feass to step aside
Let my anger take a backseat to what I really feel
Because my love is you is so real

I’m gonna sink the past into a sea of regret
Watch it drown in the waves of a revierie
I’m gonna hold on to all the good things I remember best
Because my love for you is so real

It’s real/So real
My love for you is so real
Some day later on/when all the hurt is all gone
You’ll know my love for you is so real

Tomorrow is another day
That’s always on it’s way
Back to you/Back to me/Back to love

I know someday you’ll try to say
All the things you can’t conceal
They’ll be buried alive in the blues you’ll sing
Because my love for you is so real

Track Name: New York City
New York City

I danced with a day-job demon/so pleased to see me
Then I jumped through hoops and rings/Just trying to do the right thing
I couldn’t see it for the hell it was/when I got here and that’s because
My heart was open and my eyes were closed/to the stench coming down the road

Sleep-walking sister slinging
salutations in a blue hue singing
Wha’cha gonna do/if it’s

Too wrong to be all bad for you
Too right to be good all the way through
Too soon to be what you thought you knew
Wha’cha gonna do

Maybe the deal went down/the day before yesterday
Maybe it’ll all fall over/no matter what I do or say
Maybe if I last a little longer/there’ll be hell to pay
Maybe if this don’t break me/I need to be on my way

Sweet swinging sounds of suffering
And I’m suffocating as I’m slipping and sliding
Wha’cha gonna do/if it’s

Too wrong to be all bad for you
Too right to be good all the way through
Too soon to be what you thought you knew
Wha’cha gonna do


Sleep-walking sister slinging
salutations in a blue hue singing
Wha’cha gonna do/if it’s
Track Name: Leave Me Alone
Leave Me Alone

You say you wanna stay/wait and see what happens
Countin' on fate to fix all our problems
Whatever's wrong will disappear like magic
In a pink cloud of happiness
But I won't live in a fantasyland
Where everything is fine 'cause you ain't got a plan
You should have done way more than try to understand

Leave me alone/leave me alone/why you messin' with me?
Leave me alone/leave me alone/go on, I’m setting you free
Leave me alone/leave me alone/we weren't meant to be
Leave me alone

I ain't got the time to sacrifice myself
To your heap of problems and your nonsense
Whatever's right disappeared like magic
In a black cloud of funkiness
What we had could only stop and start
'Cause when things went wrong it wasn’t ever your fault
You couldn’t recognize and do way more than talk and grandstand

Understand/my love life is not a rinse cycle
This back and forth has caused a big wrinkle I can't ignore
I need a man like a fish needs a bicycle
Put a flounder on a tricycle and watch her go
Go ‘head and leave me alone
Track Name: Get It Right This Time
Get It Right This Time

I thought about what we were
And all of what we thought we had
I thought about the things we did
The way we hung on ‘til it all went bad
I thought about the ties that bind us
How they tried to rip right through us
Nothing was enough to kill
This feeling in my heart/breaking

I think about the friends we lost
And found and lost again
I think I’m glad I never
Gave way and fell off the deep end
I think I’m happy knowing
Time ain’t showing on me
But what I got to give
Lives in me forever
And keeps me free

Time won’t hold up for you
Better try to keep up before you get left behind
Time won’t slow up for you
Better not wait and see
Do what you gotta do to get it right this time
Track Name: The Way of the World
That’s the Way of the World

It’s the longest line that runs between what was and what could be
It’s the longest road that takes me back to things I couldn’t see
It’s the longest time to wait ‘til I’m the one who won’t believe
That the happiness I left behind is right in front of me

That’s the way of the world

It’s the shortest way to get to where I once belonged and knew
That the shortest time would pass me by ‘til all my dreaming grew
Seems the whole world changed and so did I/had nothing left to lose
Feel the ground that’s shaking as the wheels are turning
I’m swinging and singing the blues
Track Name: Help Me
Help Me

I know how to swim but I’m drowning
Can’t seem to help what I’m feeling
Everyone sees me free-falling
Watches me crash through the ceiling

Up through the ground I am soaring
Everything in me is roaring
Twisting into me so sweetly
Breaking my heart so completely

Help me to say no
Help me not to want more
Help me to let go
Help me to walk out that door

Day break and night time is falling
Comes to me without any warning
Punch-drunk enough to contain me
My hopes can never sustain me

Feeling the weight of confusion
Happiness is an illusion
Smiling to keep on romancing
The danger I keep second-chancing

I’m too numb to care for you
I’m too cold to feel what you do
It’s too late to face the truth between us
What we had won’t see us through

Track Name: Stand By Your Man
Stand By Your Man

Sometimes it’s hard to be a woman
Giving all your love to just one man
You’ll have bad times/and he’ll have good times
Doing things that you don’t understand

But if you love him you’ll forgive him
Even though he’s hard to understand
Oh, say you love him/and be proud of him
‘Cause after all, he’s just a man

Stand by your man
Give him two arms to cling to
And something warm to come to
When nights are cold and lonely
Stand by your man
And show the world you love him
Keep giving all the love you can
Stand by your man