Thursday, January 31, 2013

Shemekia Copeland -- "33 1/3"

I won't be the first or the last to say it, but Shemekia Copeland has made a great cd. 2009's "Never Going Back" was really good, and it might have been difficult for a lesser talent to follow it, but Shemekia has made an even better cd in 33 1/3. This is a tough set with powerhouse vocals and music, featuring some great songs and great songwriters.

There are some carry overs from "Never Going Back." Again, the cd is produced by Oliver Wood, and the executive producer is Copeland's manager John Hahn. And Wood/Hahn co-wrote 4 songs here. Other songs are from Sam Cooke, ("Ain't That Good News") Bob Dylan, ("I'll Be Your Baby Tonight") Randy Weeks, ("Can't Let Go") Earl Bridgeman-Philip Wooten, ("I Sing The Blues") Chris Long, ("Hangin' Up") and Johnny Copeland ("One More Time"). The core band is Shemekia on vocals, Oliver Wood and Arthur Nielson on guitar, Ted Peccio on bass, Garry Hanson on drums. Guests include Buddy Guy, guitar on "Ain't Gonna Be Your Tattoo;" JJ Grey, vocals on "Mississippi Mud;" Roosevelt Collier, pedal steel on "Lemon Pie" "Mississippi Mud" and "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight;" Jon Liebman, harmonica on "I Sing The Blues" and "One More Time;" Neil Wauchope, organ on "Mississippi Mud" and "Hangin Up;" Charlie Starr, pedal steel on "A Woman" and background vocals with Sarah Dugans on "Somebody Else's Jesus."

Just for me, one of keys here is "Mississippi Mud." The songs kicks off with the rhythm guitar of Oliver Wood locked in tight with Ted Peccio and Gerry Hanson. Then Shemekia just pours her great voice into the mix, and on the second verse she is joined by JJ Grey's vocals, and the organ and pedal steel keep things percolating along. Shemekia has grown so much--now she knows she doesn't have to shout or push the vocals--all she has to do is sing this good song, and she sings it with tenderness and care. And she does the same thing with every song here. The cd is built on good songs, the production has great balance and warmth, and Shemekia sings well. Her father's song "One More Time," has never been sung better. Sam Cooke and Bob Dylan both get a sympathetic reading by a woman who can sing their songs with intelligence and taste.

Bravo, Ms Copeland.

You can buy this cd at I-Tunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Read more about Shemekia and this cd and check out her tour schedule at                     

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