Similar artists

Albums

$9.99

Blues - Released September 11, 2015 | Alligator Records

Distinctions Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
Shemekia Copeland had the advantage of good genes and a strong family name early in her career as the daughter of top-shelf blues guitarist Johnny Copeland, but 17 years after she cut her debut album, she's established that she can more than get by on her own talent and reputation, and 2015's Outskirts of Love (which finds her returning to Alligator Records after a pair of albums for Telarc) shows once again she's one of the strongest and most capable vocalists in the contemporary blues game. Copeland has a solid, expressive voice with plenty of power, she knows how to sell a song without an excess of melodrama, and with producer and songwriter Oliver Wood she's found a creative partnership that serves both sides well. Wood's tunes are well suited to Copeland's fearless persona, from the story of one woman's well-earned revenge in "Crossbone Beach" to the wild and woolly misadventures of "Drivin' Out of Nashville" (where she reminds us "country music ain't nothin' but the blues with a twang"), and the studio band (with Wood on guitar) cooks up a solid groove behind her, with guest shots from Robert Randolph, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Will Kimbrough, and ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, who sits in on a cover of his group's 1973 hit "Jesus Just Left Chicago." Copeland also shows off her sure hand with covers on her interpretations of Jesse Winchester's "Isn't That So," John Fogerty's "Long as I Can See the Light," and Albert King's "Wrapped Up in Love Again," and while Copeland respects the essence of the originals, she can bring her own personality to each number and give it life. Shemekia Copeland is one vocalist who can cut a straightforward blues set in the 21st century and still make it sound fresh and exciting, and Outskirts of Love captures her at the top of her game, young enough to still pack a wallop and experienced enough to know just what her music needs. ~ Mark Deming
$9.99

Blues - Released August 3, 2018 | Alligator Records

$9.99

Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

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. ~ Cub Koda
$9.99

Blues - Released January 18, 2011 | Alligator Records

The daughter of blues icon Johnny Copeland may not be the template for sassy, blues-based soul shouting -- there are plenty of similarly styled women in blues history -- but her tough, brassy vocals and female-empowered songs quickly made her one of the most popular contemporary female artists in the genre after her 1998 Alligator debut. The label released four albums from the singer, all pretty much in the same vein, through 2005, after which she took a four-year break and reappeared on the Telarc imprint with a redefined approach. This hour-plus compilation successfully grabs 15 highlights, adds a snappy Christmas song originally included on an Alligator holiday anthology, and provides a snapshot for those who want a sampler of Copeland's talents. While the strutting, harder-edged music, often including horns, is a significant part of Copeland's résumé and substantially represented here, the compilers have included some jazzy and more subtle performances that show she is comfortable dialing down the vocal fire power when needed. There's also a funky side to her personality, represented by the Tower of Power-styled "Better Not Touch" from 2005's The Soul Truth and 2002's "When a Woman's Had Enough." The disc ignores a strict chronological presentation for one that flows musically. Many of these songs were written specifically for Copeland -- she gets a writing co-credit on five --so the sound and lyrical themes remain relatively consistent, even through seven years. Since all of her discs had a similar groove, the result is more than just a batch of good tunes played and sung with conviction, but a smartly calculated summation that plays like a unified whole. In addition to gritty blues-rockers like the Stones/Chuck Berry-inspired flamethrower "Wild, Wild Woman," Copeland wrings real soul from ballads such as "Don't Whisper" and especially an intimate reading of her father's "Ghetto Child," both with a surprisingly sympathetic and sensitive touch. She's even convincing on the lone acoustic Delta blues "Beat Up Guitar," an enticing side road that might be worth exploring again in the future. Copeland's 2009 Telarc release reveals new directions for her, but this wrap-up does a terrific job of summarizing these crucial early years in her professional development. ~ Hal Horowitz
$9.99

Blues - Released March 10, 2011 | Alligator Records

$9.99

Blues - Released June 18, 2009 | Alligator Records

Shemekia Copeland can sing the heck out of the blues, but she isn't necessarily a blues singer, and on The Soul Truth she makes what would seem like a sure-fire move into Memphis soul territory, even working with Stax great Steve Cropper, who produced the album and adds his trademark guitar economics to most of the tracks. Copeland is a strong, forceful singer, and with support from the Muscle Shoals horn section and guest spots from Felix Cavaliere, who plays organ on three songs, and Dobie Gray, who duets with Copeland on Bekka Bramlett's "Used," this set ought to be a barnburner. So why isn't it a better album? The problem really is a lack of distinctive songs, with too much of the set suffering from generic lyrics and melodies. Most of the material was written or co-written by Copeland's longtime mentor John Hahn, who has contributed heavily to all of her albums (even producing the first one), and his songs this time out seem tired and clichéd, and while Copeland tries to inject them with some fire and spunk, they seem to mostly just sputter loudly, and worse, end up just exposing Copeland's bag of vocal tricks, as she tries everything to get them to lift off of the ground. It is telling that the best tracks here are built around outside material, with Copeland turning in her most emotionally nuanced vocals on the duet with Gray on "Used" (originally a country hit for Lorrie Morgan) and a cover of Eddie Hinton's "Something Heavy," while her take on Cropper's swampy "Honey Do That Voo-Doo" gives the song a wonderfully sassy veneer. Copeland has the talent and tools to be a major star, and the instinct to move in a soul direction is a good one, but she needs songs with real emotional substance, and there just aren't enough of those here. The Soul Truth isn't a bad album, but it certainly is a disappointing one, given the talent involved. ~ Steve Leggett
$12.99

Blues - Released January 1, 2012 | Concord Records, Inc.

Singer Shemekia Copeland must have been pleased with the way 2009's Never Going Back turned out because she returns to the well and again employs the services of the Wood Brothers' Oliver Wood as producer/guitarist, and some of the same backing musicians, on this follow-up released three years later. As on the last disc, there is a decided shift away from the sassy blues belter style that powered her Alligator catalog (the disc is dedicated to Koko Taylor, an obvious role model) to a still rootsy but more reserved rock/gospel/R&B groove. She addresses serious socio-political topics of violence against women in the Robert Cray-styled "Ain't Gonna Be Your Tattoo" (which includes a fiery guest solo from Buddy Guy), phony religious demagoguery on the rollicking and very Stonesy "Somebody Else's Jesus," and the depressing economic climate circa 2012 on the opening "Lemon Pie." These tracks were co-written with Copeland's longtime manager John Hahn and guitarist/producer Wood, who seem to make a good songwriting team. Her covers of Bob Dylan (a stripped-down, swamped-up, "I'll Be Your Baby Tonight"), Sam Cooke (a percussively peppy "Ain't that Good News") and JJ Grey's churchy "A Woman" (with a wild, nearly unhinged pedal steel solo from Charlie Starr) are terrific rearrangements of these tunes, and she sings them with passion and conviction. Wood taps his Atlanta-based side project Burnt Bacon for frontman Jon Liebman (ex-Sean Costello) who blows sizzling electrified harp on the deep Chicago vibe of "I Sing the Blues," the album's bluesiest and toughest performance. As usual, Copeland covers one of her dad Johnny's compositions; this time it's the jazzy soul of "One More Time." The singer was only 33 1/3 years old at the time of this album's 2012 release which, along with her love of vinyl, accounts for its title. Still, she sounds older and wiser than her chronological years would dictate, as she energizes these terrific songs with guts, power, and a restraint powered by experience and natural talent. ~ Hal Horowitz
$12.99

Blues - Released January 1, 2012 | Concord Records, Inc.

Booklet

News feed Prev. Next