Music You Don't Know You Like Yet
Unlike many children of blues luminaries who try to ride their parent’s coattails into the spotlight, Shemekia Copeland has always honored her father Johnny Copeland by charting her own course into the music world. This, her sixth Alligator Records release, (with a couple of releases on other labels) finds her taking a tough look at the current great divide that has infected our relationships with our fellow citizens. She makes it clear from the get-go that she has no patience for the intolerant, "I Ain’t Got Time for the Hate", and calls the question for those who profess superiority when they have the choice between dying and accepting help from someone they deem inferior, "Would You Take My Blood". She pines for simpler times where truth isn’t a rabbit you pull from a hat and cards aren’t all up someone’s sleeve, "Smoked Ham and Peaches". Not everything is a look at the big picture of modern society: On "The Wrong Idea" she focuses on the more immediate problem of a guy at the bar who thinks she’s there for him when in reality she’s just out for a good time with her friends and she’s joined by John Prine on "Great Rain" where the two follow a swampy groove and talk to a young Mark Twain. "I Promised Myself" finds her taking back her promise to never fall in love again after having her heart stomped flat and on the Kink’s "I’m Not Like Everybody Else" she proclaims her distinctive place in the world. In the "Blood of the Blues" is a scorching blues history lesson and "Such a Pretty Flame" finds her ruminating on how easily things you take as true can turn to ashes if you focus only on the spectacle of the fire rather than what is fueling it. Throughout she’s backed by a crack band including Will Kimbrough on guitar, Lex Price on bass, Pete Abbott on drums and a cast of guest vocalists including John Prine, Emmylous Harris and Mary Gauthier. While this is more a blues informed disc than a straight blues release it is terrific from beginning to end and belongs in your library whether you are a blues purist or a blues tourist. SMITTY
review by Mark
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