Janiva Magness review…June 28, 2014…

JANIVA MAGNESS

ORIGINAL

FATHEAD RECORDS  FH 1005

LET ME BREATHE–TWICE AS STRONG–WHEN YOU WERE MY KING–I NEED A MAN–EVERYTHING IS ALRIGHT–WITH LOVE (FEAT. DAN NAVARRO)–MOUNTAIN–WHO AM I–BADASS–THE HARD WAY–STANDING

For some artists, a period of drastic personal tragedy is often followed by a period of unmatched creativity.  Witness the latest album from Chris Martin and Coldplay, (“Ghost Stories”), borne from his recent break-up with Gwyneth Paltrow.  And, even “Layla” herself was the result of Clapton’s despondency after being spurned by Patti Boyd, who chose George Harrison instead.

In Janiva’s case, tho, since 2010 she has undergone a tremendous amount of life-altering events that would leave the average person overwhelmed.  Janiva, tho, is no ordinary blueswoman, and, even following the dissolution of her seventeen-year marriage, the deaths of several close friends and relatives, and a neck operation that could have ended her career, Janiva has done what she’s always done best–come back, and come back strong.  Her latest album is entitled “Original,” and there are indeed eleven originals herein that trace her journey through the pain of loss to the triumphs of the human spirit and redemption.

The leadoff cut, “Let Me Breathe,” looks back over the aftermath of a broken love, as “I can’t catch my breath since the day he left.”  “Everything Is Alright” and “The Hard Way” remind us of the importance of a great circle of friends to help thru the tough times, realizing “this is not the end.”

Janiva gets in her share of defiance, too.  A thumping backbeat drives “Who Am I,” as she lets her lover know that “when anyone else would’ve said goodbye, I was the one who loved you.”  A funky backbeat over slide guitar and a backing chorus drives Badass,” Janiva’s stiletto-to-the-scrotum  to future Mr. Wrongs that  lets them all know that “I’m doin’ my own thing—I don’t need nobody!”

In the end, tho, the human spirit triumphs, as Janiva and the backing chorus of sistahs give “Twice As Strong” a gospel energy, while tthe set-closing “Standing” finds her admitting that “even tho I’m scared I’m standing and my heart’s still beating.”

Thanks to the effort of producer Dave Darling, Janiva pushed her already-incredible two-and-a-half octave range to its limits, more so on this album than on any of her others.  And, it marks the first time that Janiva has written the majority of songs for an album.  The place from which these songs came  is one of the deepest, darkest corners of the blues, but Janiva Magness made these songs some of the most soulful she has ever recorded.  Girl, you are truly an “Original.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.

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