R&B, Blues, Soul & Stax

Truth Above All

15 MAR 09 DAVID NATHAN

No matter the lyrical subject matter, the blues has always been renowned for truth tellin'. That approach is evident from the opening track of award-winning singer Shemekia Copeland's Telarc debut set, Never Going Back.

The award-winning daughter of Johnny Copeland pulls no punches with "Sounds Like The Devil," a no-nonsense tale of politicians who use religion as a bait for gaining support. Shemekia's fourth album -- a follow up to 2005's Steve Cropper-produced Soul Truth -- is a mix of social commentary ("Broken World," the New Orleans-flavored "Big Brand New Religion," "The Truth Is The Light") and personal slices-of-life. There's the Harlem-born vocalist's funky take on Percy Mayfield's classic "River's Invitation" alongside a jazzy version of Joni Mitchell's "Black Crow" while the standout shuffle-beat "Never Going Back To Memphis" has a decidedly authentic ring of reality to it.

Of course, given Copeland's pedigree, it's no surprise that her ability to tell it like it is in song is completely real and natural. It's her musical honesty that catapulted Shemekia to international attention with her 1998 debut Turn The Heat Up! Subsequently, she's opened for The Rolling Stones, earned a Grammy nomination, won three W.C. Handy Blues Awards, duetted with the late Ruth Brown, been produced by Dr. John and performed on shows with Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Taj Mahal and John Mayer among others. Not bad going for a young women who's just celebrated her 30th birthday.

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