Steady Love (Stony Plain) is the new release by Maria Muldaur and finds the soulful singer backed by a group of New Orleans musicians under the leadership of keyboard master David Torkanowsky. In addition to Torkanowsky, the backing band is Shane Theriot on guitar, Johnny Allen on bass and Kenny Blevins on drums, with Shannon Powell taking the drum chair on four tracks as well as among those adding background vocals with Rick Vito adding slide guitar to a track and Jimmy Carpenter and Ian Smith add horns to the title track. On a cover of Please Send Me Someone To Love, a band including guitarist Mighty Mike Schermer is present.
Muldaur's voice has aged and has a husky quality and body that lends an authority to the vocals. Her voice is certainly different from the younger singer who projected an innocence, yet seductiveness, on Midnight at the Oasis. David Torkanowsky has provided settings to enhance her vocals here. The band plays strongly throughout and the backing vocals at times lend a gospel flavor to some of the performances, some of which like the traditional " Done Made It In My Mind (to serve God until I die), Rev. W. H. Brewster's As An Eagle Stirreth In her Nest, and Stephen Bruton's Walk By Faith, are spiritual in message whereas other songs find her give an uplifting dimension to lyrics such as on the opening I'll Be Glad, as she sings about bad luck and suffering and being tired of living in this world of hurt and she will be so glad when she gets her groove back on.
Then there is her nice rendition of the late Bobby Charles' classic on backbiting so-called "friends," Why Are People Like That? In contrast, she gets sassy for the strutting groove of Soulful Dress, which contrasts with Greg Brown's Blues Go Walking, which has a country soul feel. Rain Down Tears is a strong blues performance with an interesting melodic twist that guitarist Arthur Adams and Will Jennings penned. Get You Next To Me, finds Maria singing about standing on the corner, cell phone in her hand while wanting her man to call her number as she can't wait until she gets her man next to her. Greg Brown also penned the title track with a bit more urban flavor (and a reggae feel to the rhythm).
Rick Zito's I Am Not Alone, is another spiritual affirmation. Zito's marvelous slide guitar and the arrangement lend this song the tenor of an updated Blind Willie Johnson song and puts a close to this exemplary recording that showcases the maturity that has come to Maria Muldaur's performances. Recommended.
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