How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.
Kathi McDonald has appeared on more than 70 gold albums, virtually all of them as a backup vocalist for such rock and soul luminaries as the Pointer Sisters, Joe Crocker and especially, Ike and Tina Turner. Above and Beyond is the first album of her own in more than 25 years. That she can sing the blues as down and dirty and as soulful as anyone on today's scene is demonstrated throughout this session, but particularly on "Georgia Sunday Morning", a piece figuratively drenched in red clay poignancies. Her passion and strength come through on the one live track on the CD, "Season of the Witch" even though you feel that you're sitting in the last chair of a massive music hall with bad acoustics. It's too bad that the transfer didn't work out better because in addition to McDonald, there's some outstanding keyboard work by Brian Auger. The presence of Lee Oskar's harmonica on such tunes on "Don't Give up on Me" and "Girl You Don't Move Me" are critical to creating that feeling of sanctified soul. This album also is further evidence of the thin line between various musical genre and that perhaps too much time is spent trying to slot a performer into one category or another. "Chicken Today Feathers Tomorrow" could just as well have showed up on the play bill of a Loretta Lynn Grand Old Opry concert. "A Soulful Prayer" is a defiant, in your face, high struttin' psalm of determination of a lady who doesn't a care a lick what people think, a kind of soulful I'm going to do it "my way". There's a large cast of supporting players on this disc. In addition to Oskar and Auger, , Ed Vance and Norm Bellas on keyboards Jim Coile on sax and a quartet of drummers, help raise the album considerably above the ordinary. This is powerful stuff from a blonde haired, blue-eyed lady of soul working out of the Northwest. Recommended.
Track Listing: Above and Beyond; Don't Give Up on Me; Georgia Sunday Morning; A Soulful Prayer; Girl You Don't Move Me; I Put a Spell on You; Stray Cat; Dallas; Two Drifters; Chicken Today Feathers Tomorrow; Ain't It Wonderful; Season of the Witch
Personnel: Kathi McDonald - Vocal; Karma Auger, Larry McClure, Ralph Penland, Joe Romersa - Drums; Brian Auger, Norm Bellas, Ed Vance - Keyboards; Bunny Brunel, Rob Moitoza, Nick Sample, Mark Tabert - Bass; Rob Carmichael, Rich Dangel, Doug Scott - Electric Guitar; Jim Coile - Sax; Bill Kennerly - Electric Piano; Lee Oskar - Harp; Nick Vigarino -Acoustic Guitar/Electric Slide Guitar.