Marcia Ball -- bred on New Orleans R&B, Louisiana swamp boogie and the Austin singer-songwriter school -- carries on in those traditions and pumps up the bluesy elements on her ninth album, "Presumed Innocent," her debut for Alligator. Predatory lovers, angst-racked romantics, town gossips and gullible innocents number among the characters wandering through these 13 easy-grooving tunes, five penned or co-written by the tall, Texas-based singer and pianist.
She makes us feel so good when love hurts so bad on songs like "Scene of the Crime" or "You Make It Hard," a brassy duet with the perfectly matched Delbert McClinton. Professor Longhair lurks around the edges of "Louella" and "You Make Me Happy." Rootsy Cajun rock anchors "Thibodaux, Louisiana" (with Sonny Landreth, Gary Primich and Lil Band of Gold members C.C. Adcock and Pat Breaux). And Fats Domino informs "I'm Coming Down With the Blues."