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Stronger for It

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Album Review

Janiva Magness hasn't recorded any of her own compositions since she cut "Good Car" on It Takes One to Know One, her 1997 debut. Here she makes up for lost time with three compelling co-writes with producer David Darling. The tunes are some of the most potent on an album with no shortage of powerful material. There's a hint of Stax in the arrangement of "There It Is," the nasty kiss-off that opens the set. Darling's gritty guitar and Matt Teco's drums provide an ominous stomping rhythm to set off Magness' snarling vocal. When she sings, "I never thought I'd wanna hurt a man so bad," it sends chills down your spine. "I Won't Cry" visits the same heartbroken territory, but with a quiet intensity. Magness dips into her throaty mid-range to profess, "I get cut and I might bleed, but I won't cry." It's a great tag line supported by Darling's simmering lead and haunting B-3 by Arlan Oscar. "Whistling in the Dark" delivers more simmering Southern soul as Magness delivers the tale of a long-suffering spouse who knows the truth, but is unable to leave the relationship. The rest of the program is made up of her usual selection of well-chosen covers. "Make It Rain" from Tom Waits' Real Gone album is transformed into an old-time blues with Magness and Darling's guitar engaging a lively call and response. Magness shows off her range here, slipping from her growling mid-range up to a sorrowful shriek. On most of the album, she displays a muted, simmering side, delivering the bad news with understated intensity. Ike Turner's "You Got What You Wanted" uses a funky New Orleans rhythm to support a vocal that flips between rage and resignation. Grace Potter's "Ragged Company" is a quiet, introspective look at life's unpleasant truths, and Gladys Knight's "I Don't Wanna Do Wrong" is a slow, sexy R&B burner that delves into the dark allure of infidelity with a sinister groove and Magness delivering one of her most wrenching vocals. The album closes with Ray Wylie Hubbard's "Whoop and Holler," a gospel song that lives up to its title with the band supplying unrestrained whoops and handclaps to support Magness' jubilant vocal. ~ j. poet, Rovi

Customer Reviews

Fantastic cd

This is another great cd from start to finish for one of the most inspired female singers on the planet. I've seen her multiple times and have all her tunes on my i-pod. with three songs she co-wrote, a killer tom waits cover and so much more, this may be her best one yet. give it a listen. you will not be disappointed. great voice, great singer! her band is awesome, too. some singers may have pretty voices, but Janiva has the voice and the passion to match. no one puts more of her heart into a song than she does. if whoop and holler doesn't knock you out, you are already dead and there's no hope for you. come to think of it, if may bring you back if you are already gone. there is not a weak cut in the mix. this cd really deserves to be heard far and wide by everyone who loves good, honest, powerful, from the heart music sung by a great talent. check it out. you will love it.

Stronger For It

Typical Janiva Magness high quality performance. Strong blues singer with just the right amount of rough edge to be authentic blues. I love each of her previous albums, and this one doesn't dissapoint either. She's great in concert and great on record. Buy this album.

Ooooh la la...add this to your library

Another phenomenal set of tracks from Ms Magness. Her unmistakable voice is as raw, powerful, sultry and silky smooth as ever. She is a true artist that what you hear on the recording is even better live. My two favorite tracks are "I Won't Cry" and "Whoope and Holler". The band rocks it out and provides many fantastic riffs throughout the entire album. Add this to library and I guarantee you will play it often.


Born: January 30, 1957 in Detroit, MI

Genre: Blues

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

Blues and soul singer Janiva Magness was no stranger to trouble and hard times growing up, and at her best, she pours that lifetime of emotion into her passionate phrasing and vocal delivery. Born in Detroit, Magness grew up with her father's blues and country record collection, as well as the city's wonderful Motown pop-soul sound, all of which shaped her style and approach as a musician. She lost both of her parents to suicide while in her early teens, and she ended up living on the streets, channeled...
Full Bio