Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

SHEMEKIA COPELAND

NEVER GOING BACK

2009-03-06

When Shemekia Copeland burst onto the blues scene from Harlem in 1998 she was a 19 year old with a voice that could shout down a freight train. While she still has all that power, the ensuing years have taught her how to restrain it in service of her songs giving her the ability to deliver a broader range of material. This collection finds her taking on everything from Joni Mitchell’s jazzy "Black Crow" to Buddy and Julie Miller’s swampy "Dirty Water" to Paul Thorn’s rocking "Rise Up" to her father, Johnny Copeland’s, blues drenched "Circumstances". Copeland’s new found control also pays dividends in the service of her own tunes. On "Sounds Like the Devil" her disgust is evident as she takes an unflinching look at the use of God for political ends or as a tool for personal financial advancement. Her producer, John Hahn and guitarist Oliver Wood, who contribute several numbers here, give her a great vehicle to try out some edgy funk on "Never Going Back to Memphis". As good as these cuts are it is the R & B/Soul numbers where she shines brightest. "Broken World", "Born a Penny", "Big Brand New Religion" and Percy Mayfield’s 'River’s Invitation" reveal an upbeat sass to her voice that conjures up thoughts of Aretha. This one will get lots of spins. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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