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Blues, boogie, and swing, the core of Palmer’s musical soul, are a music often associated with the woes of the road, with hard travelling and the search for a place to rest, if only brief. Perhaps coincidently, two very fine tracks involve hospitality, hotel, and motel, first with a sly rendition of the chestnut “Heartbreak Hotel.” Skewing closer to the Big Mama Thorton original than the classic Presley version, the song combines the laconic fatalism of a good country ballad and the mourning minimalism of the most despairing, dead end blues. A bit later, we drive past the track “Motel Mambo,” a lament, a confession, a tell-all in lithe mambo syncopation. Deejha Marie’s sexy, casually jaded vocal outlines the characters and their storied comings and goings. Gilbert Castellanos takes a scintillating trumpet break, fast tonguing and rattling trills that give this song a short and inspired moment of scorch, taking full advantage of Palmer’s rattling piano work. All told, Gems, Volume One is a 20-course meal, the work of a fine musician dedicated to the genius of the blues. Blues, swing, blues, country, gospel, it’s all here, a diverting collection of what Sue Palmer considers her best work since 1980. This is volume one? More, please, and soon.