Burning Heart of a Blueswoman

Shemekia Copeland - Photo by Carol Friedman
Shemekia Copeland – Photo by Carol Friedman

Shemekia Copeland

Never Going Back (Telarc Blues, 2009)

More often than not it’s the bluesmen that attract a lot of attention in the music world. Now when a truly remarkable blueswoman like Shemekia Copeland comes along it’s just best to sit back, shut up and listen. With a commanding voice, plenty of sass and albums like Turn the Heat Up!, Wicked, Talking to Strangers and The Soul Truth to her credit, Ms. Copeland is ready to set fire to the blues once again with her latest Never Going Back, scheduled for release on February 24th. Ablaze with Ms. Copeland’s dishy vocals, some plumy grooves and some downright kick ass licks, Never Going Back burns with the heart of formidable blueswoman.

e with slick slide guitar licks, expansive Hammond organ, piano, bass and percussion, Never Going Back launches into “Sounds Like the Devil” with Ms. Copeland’s smooth vocals sitting squarely center stage. Following up with tracks like the juke joint goodness of “Dirty Water,” the wickedly rich “Never Going Back to Memphis” and the sweet and easy groove of Joni Mitchell’s “Black Crow,” Ms. Copeland plies the listener with powerful vocals, dazzling delivery and an impassioned message.

With the lyrics, “Wish I could fix just a small part of this broken world,” the track “Broken World” stands out with its hopefulness and soulful vocals. Ms. Copeland’s vocals weave seductively throughout tracks like “Born of a Penny,” the funky “Limousine” and the Percy Mayfield tune “River’s Invitation,” but it’s the gospel-inspired romp on “Big Brand new Religion” and the sultry sounds of “Circumstances” that remain my favorites.

Lending their considerable talents to Never Going Back are slide guitarist Oliver Wood, bassist Ted Pecchio, drummer Tyler Greenwell, slide guitarist and guitarist Arthur Neilson, organists Ike Stubblefield and John Medeski. Shaping the sound of the CD is producer Oliver Wood and executive producer John Hahn, who also co-wrote “Sounds Like the Devil” with Ms. Copeland.

Ms. Copeland squarely puts the blueswoman on the map with her previous recordings, but Never Going Back might just a few bluesmen go a little green with envy.

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Author: TJ Nelson

TJ Nelson is a regular CD reviewer and editor at World Music Central. She is also a fiction writer. Check out her latest book, Chasing Athena’s Shadow.

Set in Pineboro, North Carolina, Chasing Athena’s Shadow follows the adventures of Grace, an adult literacy teacher, as she seeks to solve a long forgotten family mystery. Her charmingly dysfunctional family is of little help in her quest. Along with her best friends, an attractive Mexican teacher and an amiable gay chef, Grace must find the one fading memory that holds the key to why Grace’s great-grandmother, Athena, shot her husband on the courthouse steps in 1931.

Traversing the line between the Old South and New South, Grace will have to dig into the past to uncover Athena’s true crime.


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