FROM BLUES REVUE - DEC/JAN 2005 BY HAL HOROWITZ This Midwestern guitarslinging bandleader proves that her head-turning debut (Blackberry Wine) was no fluke. Muddy Water consolidates Pauline York's strengths - a stong and expressive voice, restrained lead guitar, and a swampy New Orleans attack - around excellent material. Though she admits to a strong affiliation for Stevie Ray Vaughan, York doesn't get sidetrackede by blustery electric leads or attempt to imitate Double Trouble's blues-rock approach. Instead, she treads her own ground, grinding a gutsy groove on Otis Redding's 'Security' and laying her tough yet tender voice over her own 'Thirteen Minutes.' Though her vocals have sex appeal, York refreshingly downplays that side of her persona, instead churning out blues with sass and class. She's not afraid to revert to acoustic guitar for soulful ballads such as 'Someone Else,' and a sultry, stripped-down cover of 'Cherry Pie,' where the cracks in her voice add layers of emotion to the song's suggestive lyrics. Heading to second-line territory on 'Home to Lafayette' and the joyous 'Sing it' brings out York's inner Marcia Ball. She gets mean and low-down on the title tracks, where the molasses tempo engulfs you in syrupy, sensuous slow-boil blues against evocative lyrics ('He's just like muddy water/he feels so good but he don't wash away clean.'). Young gun Nick Moss adds subtle harmonica to the tune, but York's tough, slinky guitar steals the show here and on a raging, funky cover of Son Seals' 'Your Love is Like a Cancer.' The no-nonsense production provides a flavorful feel, keeping the sound natural and overdubs to a minimum. With a talent as seemingly innate as York's turning on the recorder is all that's needed. Tight yet casual, she walks the wire between blistering blues belter and edgy singer/songwriter with remarkable aplomb.