Shemekia Copeland | Never Going Back

Telarc (2009)
By TED DROZDOWSKI  |  February 18, 2009
2.5 2.5 Stars

090220_copeland_mian
This adventurous disc is a radical departure for the young blues diva, who's spent most of her four-album career belting out solid, generic material. Here she tackles a terrific songbook: protest tunes like "Sounds like the Devil," the satirical "Big Brand New Religion," Joni Mitchell's "Black Crow," and a clutch of songs co-written by producer Oliver Wood of the Wood Brothers. Add a cast of musical ringers that includes Wood and Mark Ribot on guitars and Oliver's brother Chris on bass and it's obvious they're trying to recast her for a new audience, much as recent albums teaming roots and rock crews with Bettye LaVette and Solomon Burke have done. But Wood failed to get Copeland to find her own voice on many performances. She approximates Mitchell's gauzy tone on "Black Crow," and when she sings Wood's compositions, she copies his bouncy phrasing. Also, the dry vocal mix leaves her somewhat narrow range exposed. It adds up to an unsatisfying whole.
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  Topics: CD Reviews , Joni Mitchell, Solomon Burke, Bettye LaVette,  More more >
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