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Outskirts of Love

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Album Review

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.

Customer Reviews

Shemekia Copland-Outskirts of Love

Shemekia Copeland was born in Harlem, N.Y. and currently resides in Chicago Shemekia has performed in the past
with the likes of Eric Clapton, Santana, Bonnie Raitt, B.B. King, Buddy Guy and too many others to mention here. She has earned two Grammy nominations for Best Blues Album as well as multiple Blues Music Awards, and has appeared on national television.
There is no question that Shemekia Copeland has a powerhouse voice, but she brings with it a tenderness that simply touches the heart. Ms. Copeland, with this album, brings the blues of old times hard times up to date with current issues of loss, love, rape, violence and a never failing devotion to her faith in God and empathy for those who need a help up. In the tune ‘Crossbone Beach’ she deals with the denigration of the soul that finds redemption in the justice delivered; as she sings, ‘Paybacks a bitch’. I love the crossover of genres in her rendition of ‘Drivin’ Out of Nashville’ a country tune that stipulates that ‘country music ain’t nothing but the blues with a twang’; and darned if she isn’t right. Ms. Copeland touches on gospel stylings as evidenced in her cover of John Fogerty’s ‘Long As I Can See the Light’, ‘Lord, Help the Poor and Needy’ and a great cover of ZZ Top’s ‘Jesus Left Chicago’ with guest musician Billy Gibbons pitching in, but she gives the lyrics a powerful meaning not lost on the listener. ‘Wrapped Up in Love’, originally written and performed by Albert King, brings with it a solid as concrete groove and Shemekia’s vocals are clearly a driving force. This album is a solid blues release updated to
so many of today’s issues of concern. Shemekia Copeland has landed my vote with ‘Outskirts of Love’.

Biography

Born: April 10, 1979 in Harlem, New York, NY

Genre: Blues

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

The daughter of renowned Texas blues guitarist Johnny Copeland, Shemekia Copeland began making a splash in her own right before she was even out of her teens. Projecting a maturity beyond her years, Copeland fashioned herself as a powerful, soul-inflected shouter in the tradition of Koko Taylor and Etta James, yet also proved capable of a subtler range of emotions. Copeland was born in Harlem in 1979 and her father encouraged her to sing right from the beginning, even bringing her up on-stage at...
Full Bio
Outskirts of Love, Shemekia Copeland
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