VOICES Notes and news on New Releases
23 SEP 12 JOHN C. BRUENING
Vocalist Shemekia Copeland literally grew up with the blues. Her daddy, guitarist Johnny Clyde Copeland, was a purveyor of Texas roadhouse blues for four decades. Shemekia herself got into the game when she was 18, and has enjoyed a successful career in the 15 years since. The clever double meaning behind the title of her latest CD, 33 1/3 - a nod to the many vinyl LPs she listened to as a child, as well as a reference to her age at the time of the CD's release on Telarc -- is emblematic of her equally clever approach to interpreting pop, folk and country songs through a decidedly bluesy lens.
From the get-go, Shemekia has plenty to say. The opener, "Lemon Pie," addresses the struggle of the middle class and the widening gap between the nation's haves and have-nots. Likewise, songs like "Ain't Gonna Be Your Tattoo" and "Mississippi Mud" rail against domestic violence and intolerance, respectively ("Tattoo" features some searing guitar licks by guest titan Buddy Guy).
But there's light-hearted fare here as well, including a bluesy reading of Randy Weeks' pining country ballad, "Can't Let Go," and a soulful rendition of Sam Cooke's "Ain't That Good News." And perhaps most satisfying is her nod to her father with a rendition of the elder Copeland's "One More Time," a song that confronts a cheating lover and draws a hard line in the sand.
At 33 1/3, Shemekia has gained some life experience -- positive as well as negative -- that she's more than willing to share with anyone within the sound of her voice. "I think people want to tap into the wisdom that comes with that experience," she said. "I tried to bring little bit of that wisdom to every one of these songs."