A Woman Rules The World
Little Village Foundation
There is something about a recording that makes one take notice, especially when it is by an artist that one was previously unaware of. San Diego vocalist Whitney Shay made that impression when I first started listening to her assertive "Ain't No Weak Woman," that opens up this new release of modern urban blues and classically oriented soul. Supporting her expressive singing is the excellent support that producer and guitarist Christoffer 'Kid' Andersen has provided. On this she is supported by a studio band that includes Jim Pugh on keyboards, Kedar Roy on bass, Alex Pettersen on drums and 'Sax" Gordon Beadle on saxophones with Igor Prado and Aki Kumar among those guesting on selected tracks.
"Ain't No Weak Woman" is one of four songs Shay co-wrote with Adam Eros, and she vigorously delivers her lyric that having a weak moment does not make her a weak woman. It is a moving vocal set against a driving groove with a superb Sax Beadle tenor sax solo. More raspy sax opens a lesser known Dinah Washington number "Blues Down Home." The terrific horn arrangement and her superb vocal suggests she could handle a straight jazz recording as well as she handles the blues and soul here. This track also has Jim Pugh's greasy organ accompaniment, a nice harp break from Aki Kumar and booting sax that evokes Eddie Chamblee and the like. After a hint of New Orleans on another original, "Don't You Fool Me No More," Igor Prado adds his slashing guitar and a vocal on another original, the funky "Love's Creeping Up On You."
The title track was Denise LaSalle's answer to James Brown's "It's a Man's World." Sdt against the firm accompaniment, moaning and shouting, she delivers another knockout vocal. Andersen's sitar helps open her fervent blues shouting on a reworking of Little Richard's "Freedom Blues," followed by a strong deep soul interpretation of Candi Staton's "Get It When I Want It," with Sax Beadle's baritone sax a significant part of the backing. Among the other selections is the low-key original lament, "Empty Hand," where her phrasing and vocal dynamics stands out.
Another driving Little Richard number "Get Down With It," closes this recording. The terrific studio band and Andersen's production along with Shay's powerful, nuanced singing result in a superb recording.
I received my review copy from a publicist. I have made some stylistic edits to the review that originally appeared in the July-August Jazz & Blues Report (Issue 379). Here is a video of Whitney Shay performing.