Janiva Magness has certainly established herself in the past few years as among the finest singers of blues and classic rhythm & blues. She has a new Alligator release coming out soon which i hope to post a review of next week. The following review originally appeared in the May 2006, DC Blues Calendar, then the DC Blues Society’s newsletter. I was provided my review copy from either the record label or a publicist.
Since first listening to one of vocalist Janiva Magness’ recordings, this writer has become impressed by her singing. I hear echoes of the great women R&B divas of the forties through sixties in her without her sounding like she is imitating anyone,. She has developed her own distinctive, recognizable sound where she has avoided developing any detracting mannerisms and impresses with her clean, soulful delivery. With Canadian guitarist Colin Linden, she has co-produced her latest recording, Do I Move You? (Northern Music), and its another superlative effort from her.
Linden shares guitar duties with Rick Holmstrom and Jeff Turmes (Turmes also plays bass and saxophones on several selections)), Richard Bell on Piano and B-3, John Whynot on the Wurlitzer and Stephen Taylor Hodges on drums. Turmes and Linden have contributed several originals to complement the fine interpretations of songs from several different sources, including a wonderful rendition of the Delbert McClinton and Gary Nicholson penned soul-ballad, You Were Never Mine.
Magness brings to life a range of emotions and moods from the opening I’m Just a Prisoner, where she is a prisoner to her love for the man, the celebratory I Want You to Have Everything, where lets her man know there is nothing too good for him ever since he told her he loved her, to the closing A Man Size Job, where she finds the younger man able to do the man sized job her former lover could not fill. A Turmes’ original Don’t Let Your Memories, is a wistful acoustic performance with a reflective lyric and a melody that evokes Key to the Highway. The title track is a Nina Simone penned blues that Magness delivers so seductively. Linden adds some nice atmospheric guitar, judiciously employing reverb with the rhythm section just right without any overstatement.
The production here is exemplary, providing atmosphere and enhancing the wonderful vocals here. The performances keep sounding fresh after listening to this several times over a few weeks time on a truly splendid release.
Here is Janiva in performance.