R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

VOICES Notes and news on R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax releases

Stuck On Costa

06 OCT 08 ANNE FARNSWORTH

Blue-eyed soul singer/songwriter Nikka Costa's release Pebble To A Pearl, her first recording for the venerable Stax label, showcases her bluesy, energetic R&B sound that is both retro and modern.

Costa grew up in the music business. Her father, Don Costa, was a celebrated producer and arranger, most noted for his long association with Frank Sinatra. He produced a hit for his 8-year-old daughter, "Out Here On My Own," which launched her into an international touring and recording career.

Stax is a good fit for Costa, since the historic label, with its roster of blues, gospel, jazz and funk, was known for recording integrated groups, like Booker T. & The MGs. Costa's backup band is a dream team of sidemen who carry on Stax's ecumenical tradition. The opener, "Stuck To You" (free download), is a bouncy testament to love and loyalty, featuring a funky acoustic piano and Hammond organ. Ohio Players-style funk guitar riffs beneath Costa's gritty vocals on "Crybaby" recall '70s-era Bonnie Raitt, a blue-eyed soul pioneer.

Costa's dedication to the style's roots extends beyond the writing and arrangements. Instead of the now standard digital recording, Pebble To A Pearl was recorded on warmer 2-inch tape, with the band playing together in the same room. Pebble is also available as a vinyl LP. At your next party, throw the LP on the turntable and watch the puzzlement as your guests try to place this great "vintage" recording. On your next road trip, slide the CD into your car's system and groove the miles (and the years) away.