Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Album Reviews; Renee Austin, Shemekia Copeland, Heaven Davis

Austin, Copeland, & Heaven DavisThursday, August 25, 2005

Artist: Renee Austin
Title: Right About Love
Rating: Good

Born in California, raised in Texas, and living in Minneapolis, Renee Austin’s 2003 album, ‘Sweet Talk’ thrust her onto the national scene. Noted for her “five octave” vocal range Austin’s second album is titled, ‘ Right About Love.’ A semi-annual performer in the Eastern Nebraska area Austin’s slowly building an appreciative audience. On her latest album Austin says she is driving towards an Austin (Texas) sound with a guest shot by Delbert McClinton and songs written with Malford Milligan & Tommy Shannon as well as David Grissom. And just like Elvis Presley more than 40 years before her, Austin also covers Arthur ‘Big Boy’ Crudups, “That’s All Right (with Mama).” She also covers Bobby Gentry’s, “Strangers on a Train.”

Over all this is an album with numerous srong performances and Austin's hard earned fanbase will fully appreciae this record. As a concert souvenir this album will sell well off the stage too. For those looking around for a “blues” album this is probably not a good place to start as the flavor is more R n’ B and AAA music; however, within it’s intended demographic it’s a strong album.

Artist: Shemekia Copeland
Title” The Soul Truth
Rating: Good

There is a book by Arnold Shaw called, “Honkers And Shouters - The Golden Years of Rhythm & Blues.” I can remember reading it and coming to the ephiphany that ‘shouting’ is a genre within the R n’ B category. This includes vocalists such as Etta James or Koko Taylor during the twilight of their careers as their voices waned. Such a deliver style includes a myriad of growls, snorts, and edgy positioning that often wavers off note but is carried-off by the emotional force of the emoter.

On her fourth album, ‘The Soul Truth’ Shemekia Copeland rolls out her best ‘Shouting’ with the help of legendary Stax guitar man (and Blues Brother film star) Steve Cropper and the equally impressive Muscle Shoals Horn section. Other guest appearances include; Dobie Gray, sometime Allman Brother or sometime Rolling Stones keyboardist Chuck Levell, and Felix Cavaliere. The album relies heavily on the songwriting contributions of Cropper and John Hahn. (Copeland does none of the songwriting.) These are really good songs with a Stax meets Saturday Night Live flavor ala’ punching horn lines and rhythm section up front. Deservedly or not Copeland, daughter of Johnny Clyde Copeland, finds herself in the drivers seat of a highly respected genre of American music with all eyes on her. Deservedly? The label’s tout of Copeland being in the same class as Aretha Franklin is misplaced. Copeland is sassy, industry wise (using Cropper and Dr. John to produce her last two albums) and hard working; however, such a claim is out of bounds.

Artist: Heaven Davis
Title: Steamy
Rating: Very Good

Heaven Davis has no history with the middle class white fans of blues music. Her lack of presence is going to hurt her ability to get fans to pay attention to such an impressive album. Able to sing AND carry a tune, Davis walks through 14 songs including a comedic one she wrote entitled, ‘Sell My Jewelry.’ The second track on the album, ‘Daydreaming ‘Bout You’ has the stylings of a mid-60’s soul song. While the temptation to draw a wider (whiter?) audience is ever present, Davis’ keeps a working class R n’ B sound that is tasty and accomplished. She is clearly comfortable within her own skin. Davis' song, "Regrets" is vintage Glady's Knight and exceptional.

If you enjoy Otis Redding’s “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay” more than Michael Bolton’s then chances are quite strong you are going to immediately “get” Heaven Davis’ sound. Yes, it’s a purists flavor and you know I usually stray far from that restraint but in this case Davis has the goods and delivers them in full.

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