Wednesday, October 24, 2012

33 1/3 reviewed by Steve Jones

33 1/3
Shemekia Copeland
Telarc Records
11 tracks

No one can sing like Ms Copeland.  I love her ability to belt out a song as well as anyone or to take it down and mellow and get the goose bumps up on my arms.  Buddy Guy, JJ Grey

“Lemon Pie”  opens the album, and Shemekia and guitar player/producer Oliver Wood just serve it up big time.  Shemekia is in great form and the guitar solos complement this young lady’s fantastic voice. The song talks about societies haves and have-nots, apt commentary on what we have become.  “Can’t Let Go” follows, Lucinda Williams hit penned by Randy weeks, and Copeland tells the story of a love she knows if over but she can’t let go in a bluesy way.  The distortion gets turned up here on guitar and the Oliver Wood solos add grit to this cut about lost love.

“Aint’ Gonna Be Your Tatoo” is a way down tempo song about a gal who does not want to wind up being just a guy’s faded and blue tattoo.  Shemkia sings as she leaves his hotel room and ends their relationship because she was a victim of abuse from the same arm that featured her image; she implies continued “exposure” to that arm would make her faded and blue like the tatoo.  Buddy Guy offers a stinging guitar solo in the middle of this, again an excellent effort.  Copeland wails and moans and gives us a great performance here.  Three songs in and the emotions are running quite high!

Copeland gives us a great tale of a phony preacher who worships “Somebody Else’s Jesus.”  The guy’s priorities are money and material things, and Copeland calls him out for it.  The song is country blues song, with a twangy guitar and bouncy beat.  She stays country with JJ Grey’s “A Woman,” giving us a nice little ballad while taking the tempo back down.  “I Sing the Blues” offers up Copeland in a mid-tempo track with some pretty harp adding the mix as Copeland alludes that “My Daddy sang the blues to her Mama and I’ll sing the low-down dirty stinkin’ blues to you.”  Guttural and visceral stuff here.

“Mississippi Mud” gives us a little funky beat and a great sound (JJ Grey also sings with her here) while “One More Time” offers up slow blues penned by dad Johnny Copeland and done here with some pretty harp by John Liebman in the mix. Sam Cooke’s “Ain’t That Good News” swings and swings as Copeland joyously sings about her baby coming home tomorrow.  “Hangin’ Up” goes back to ruined loves and relationships as she takes her packed up bags and goes.  She closes with “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight”, a soft and sultry cut.  She almost whispers as she calls for her man in this Dylan classic.

Copeland expresses a lot of emotion and feelings here in her experiences from 15 years as a touring artist.  I think it shows that these songs all have some sort of personal meaning for her.  She adds her touches to the covers and makes them her own as she does the new material.  Her fans will not be disappointed with this CD nor will those new to her– this CD just grabs you and grows and grows in intensity and feeling with each listen.  I love listening to Shemekia and this is a great offering from her!

 Reviewed by Steve Jones

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