A year after honoring the band’s real-life namesake with a rock opera, Jethro Tull frontman Ian Anderson is giving a dozen of the group’s songs the string quartet treatment. Jethro Tull: The String Quartets, due out March 24 and available to pre-order now, finds Anderson working alongside the Carducci Quartet and arranger/conductor John O’Hara to recast a dozen Tull tracks in a new light.
Wessell Anderson is a big-toned alto saxophonist of generous spirit and above-average skill, who obviously admires the late Cannonball Adderley a great deal. This album's opening track, "Sunday Souful Supper," comes off as virtual Cannonball, with the equally rotund younger altoist serving heaping portions of red beans and rice, Adderley-style. The record as a whole is a hard-bop (re)hash and well-played.
While too many pop and R&B divas rely on Mariah Carey-like vocal histrionics, Sunshine Anderson wins over fans with her understated maturity. The first single, "Heard It All Before," breathes new life into a typical R&B diva scenario of a jilted woman confronting her cheating lover. The guitar-based mid-tempo track "Lunch and Dinner" features smooth guitar and straightforward, earnest lyrics. Your Woman features some solid production by Mike City and Mark Spark, and rather than trying to overpower the music with her voice, Anderson has enough confidence to just go along for the ride.
Sunshine Anderson is the latest in a long line of confident female R&B singers to whom self-realization is a given, and who have no problem demanding their due from their often inadequate men. Her second album, imaginatively produced with a wide range of hip, grainy-sounding beats, deals with the tough realities of relationships, in songs as varied as the grittily realistic "Problems," "Switch It Up," superficially about romance gone stale but more concerned with turning a life around, and the galumphing "Trust," whose mutant beat buffers a tale of deceit. Anderson never leaves any doubt who's in control, though she can still turn on the erotic softness in silk-sheet jams like "Force of Nature."