Shemekia Copeland has moved her recorded product to the TelArc label, has a new producer in Oliver Wood (who doubles on guitar), and pursues a style that seems more refined and less raucous or bawdy than on her previous recordings. The rough edges are shaved, maturity is settling in, and Copeland seems intent on doing things in a more traditional fashion rather than the stomping, tear-the-house-down approach she built her reputation on. She's using members of Col. Bruce Hampton's band in bassist Ted Pecchio and drummer Tyler Greenwell, occasionally bassist Chris Wood and keyboardist John Medeski from Medeski, Martin & Wood, guitarist Marc Ribot, and on loan from the Derek Trucks Band, keyboardist Kofi Burbridge for three tracks. These musicians liven up the proceedings considerably, and the production values of this effort are leaner and cleaner than her other discs. Copeland herself sounds incredibly focused and basic, far from slick but not dirty or messy on any level, and her themes reflect a current-life viewpoint that is part optimist and part cynic, with a big parcel of pragmatic realist.
Cray found himself in some pretty intimidating company for this Grammy-winning blues guitar summit meeting, but he wasn't deterred, holding his own alongside his idol Albert Collins and Texas great Johnny Copeland. Cray's delivery of Muddy Waters' rhumba-rocking "She's into Something" was one of the set's many highlights…
The daughter of the late bluesman Johnny Copeland steps up to the plate with this, her debut album for the Alligator imprint. Although only 19 at the time of this recording, Copeland comes to this album with a mature style and vast amounts of assuredness. While comparisons to Koko Taylor and Etta James will be plentiful, Shemekia has enough tricks up her sleeve to make this a disc well worth checking out. Eight of the 14 tunes aboard are co-written by producer John Hahn and strong musical support is summoned up from guitarist Jimmy Vivino, with guest turns from Joe Louis Walker and "Monster" Mike Welch, while the Uptown Horns show up on three tunes, including the title track. Highlights are numerous on this disc, but special attention should be paid to Copeland's "Ghetto Child," a nice cover of Don Covay's "Have Mercy"; Walker's "Your Mama's Talking"; and the strutting "I Always Get My Man." This is one very impressive debut.
This disc, which has Dr. John at the controls as a producer, brings together a mix that brings out the best for all those concerned and involved with this project. There is no weakness here, it is a straight-ahead use of all the strengths of Shemekia Copeland, daughter of Johnny Copeland. The songs were well selected to effectively show off all her potency as a vocalist. There are some many good writers that are also players on this disc that the tunes fit like gloves. There are strong contributions by John "Fingers" Hahn, Mac Rebennack, and Shemekia Copeland herself. The tunes, varied in style, are all based in the deep blues, and were selected for their capability to push her vocal talents to constant new personal pinnacles. She keeps it interesting by varying the pace and on "The Push I Need," she sounds right at home singing this funky tune as a duet with Dr. John. She stays with the good Dr. through the tune as if she were doing this everyday. Then she turns around and seems just as comfortable singing "Happy Valentine's Day," as a slow bluesy torch-burner, with minimal accompaniment.