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The pliant voice of Detroit-born songstress Janiva Magness enhanced Kid Ramos' latest CD, so much so that I simply had to check out her new release My Bad Luck Soul. Glad I did, because this is a fine collection of guitar-centric jump and blues.
Magness has relocated to the Left Coast and adopted the region's swinging blues style. Magness is an appealing vocalist capable of lusty passion (" It's Love Baby," "Happy Hour"), gutbucket growling ("My Bad Luck Soul," "Seven Long Days") and jazzy behind-the-beat phrasing (Billie Holiday's "Billie's Blues"). Unlike many blues divas, Magness knows not to overload a song with attitude. Her singing is subtle but intense.
The presence of husband Jeff Turmes is felt throughout My Bad Luck Soul. A fine songwriter and instrumentalist (guitar, bass, sax), Turmes is merely an adequate vocalist. The weakest tracks here are the ones on which he sings lead. Have to wonder why he even bothered to open his mouth when his wife has such great pipes.
Instrumentally speaking, this CD is superb. Axemen Enrico Crivellaro and "Kid" Ramos deliver impressive performances throughout. Pianists Karen Hammack and Red Young help to keep things swinging, and drummer Ed Mann is a dynamo. The song selection is excellent, too, but the sound is somewhat tinny. Still, it should only dissuade the most discerning audiophiles.
If you like Angela Strehli or Michele Willson, you should appreciate Janiva Magness. Can't wait to hear more from this lovely lass.
Tracks:My Bad Luck Soul; Tears of Joy; What's The Matter With The Mill?; Empty Bed Blues; Take A Number; She Never Gets A Minute of Sleep; The Mojo (Boogie); It's Love Baby (Twenty Four Hours A Day); I Wanna Know; Happy Hour; Baby, Baby, Every Night; She's A Little Bit Much; Billie's Blues; Seven Days Long
Players:Janiva Magness (vocals); Jeff Turmes (vocals, bass, guitar, sax); Enrico Crivellaro, Kid Ramos (guitar); Ed Mann (drums, congitas); Karen Hammack, Red Young (piano) drums)