Rosie Flores Credit: Rodney Bursiel

Ever since her self-titled 1987 debut, Rosie Flores has straddled the line between country and rockabilly. She may add or remove the big beat for emphasis, but she always keeps a distinct honky-tonk flavor. But on her recent album, February’s Simple Case of the Blues, the singer-guitarist dives into the blues, and rather than coming across like she’s tinkering with something new, she sounds as natural and unaffected as if she’s been playing it all her life. Unlike many nonblues artists who make R&B-flavored albums (think Aerosmith’s 2004 LP, Honkin’ on Bobo), Flores doesn’t fall back on genre cliches, which means no extended guitar solos, no duets with “very special guests,” and no cover versions of “Take Me to the River.” Instead she comes up with something closer to the eclecticism of Charlie Rich, where the blues influence is fairly subtle but heartfelt. Flores’s taste in R&B appears to come from the same era as her country-and-western records, and it fits her well. She doesn’t do full-on jump blues but rather sticks to territory reminiscent of the 1950s sounds from artists such as Ruth Brown. Flores doesn’t try to walk in someone else’s shoes as she aims for the sweet spot where country and blues converge: Simple Case of the Blues is for anyone who’s ever wished Brenda Lee would’ve waxed an R&B album in 1960, and that’s a compliment.   v