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“Her voice is like thunder”

When she first came along, someone matter-of-factly called Shemekia Copeland “the Future of Blues.” She’s lived up to that ever since. When she sings at a gig, her voice is like thunder. Complete with lightning.

[…] What’s been more and more characteristic of the songs she sings is that she sings about the real world that’s happening all around us, and that’s especially so about the new album.

Gravitas is not a word that usually shows up when talking about the blues, and yet no other music is as seriously profound about life. The broken hearts of love gone wrong. The anger that comes when feeling lost in a bottle or a gutter.

The songs that she sings on Outskirts of Love, especially songs written for Shemekia by producer John Hahn and guitarist Oliver Wood, get even deeper into troubles being faced more and more today. Being abused and waking up on Crossbone Beach. Helplessly living in a Cardboard Box. […] Not that the songs are all so deeply dark. Shemekia also gets in some laughs about the music biz, like the song Driving Out of Nashville —where country music “ain’t nothing but blues with a twang!”

Michael Bourne, host of WBGo’s Blues Hour and Singers Unlimited.

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“More drama than ever before”

Shemekia’s voice possesses more nuance; more expression, and more drama than ever before. In 2011 she was named the reigning “Queen of The Blues” and she is living up to that title.

The album opens with the first of three from the songwriting team of Hahn and Wood. The title track Outskirts of Love; Crossbone Beach featuring Robert Randolph on steel guitar; and my favorite Drivin’ Out of Nashville with the line “country music ain’t nothing but the blues with a twang”; I love the Roy Nichol’s type guitar licks included here (Nichol was Merle Haggard’s guitarist). Cardboard Box was written by Hahn with Ian Siegel and it’s a vocal duet with Shemekia and Alvin Youngblood Hart.

[…] This may arguably be Shemekia’s best. Outskirts of Love is a mature recording that will result in additional kudo’s for Ms. Copeland.

Richard Ludmerer, on Making A Scene.

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“Incredible life experiences”

“There are not many singers who can say they’ve shared stages with music legends like Buddy Guy, B.B. King, Mick Jagger and Eric Clapton. Of these individuals, there are probably even fewer who are able to say they’ve performed at the White House for President Barack Obama. For blues singer Shemekia Copeland, these incredible life experiences are an actuality,” writes Zach Hansen in The Red & Black. The journalist asked Shemekia some interesting questions about her upcoming CD Outskirts of Love before her Wednesday, September 16, performance at The Foundry, in Athens, Georgia.

Read the full interview in The Red & BlackLOGO the red and black

“She can sing it all”

There is one thing that is particularly difficult when writing about Shemekia Copeland: It is not to use superlatives in each sentence, because the diva is so unique. From blues rock to gospel, from soul to funk or folk music, Shemekia —whom we don’t need to present as the daughter of late Johnny Copeland as she really managed to make herself a first name— can sing it all, and with talent too.

By Fred Delforge, in French webzine Zicazic.

Read the whole review (in French) about Shemekia, “real ambassador of contemporary blues,” and Outskirts of Love on Zicazic.

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“Amazingly eclectic”

150905 Shemekia Copeland South Coast Today
“Copeland’s voice is legit. Think Etta James, Koko Taylor, Ruth Brown, Mavis Staples,” writes Lauren Daley in South Coast Today, to announce Shemekia’s headlining show at the 14th Annual Narrows Festival of the Arts, in Fall River, Massachussets, on September 13.

“Her new album, Outskirts of Love, drops two days before her Fall River concert, so she’ll probably —hopefully— sing a few tracks off that, because it’s amazingly eclectic. It’s largely her interpretations of songs by artists including her father, the late Texas guitar legend Johnny Clyde Copeland, to ZZ Top, Solomon Burke, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Jesse Winchester, Albert King and, two of my favorites, Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.”

Read the whole story in South Coast Today.LOGO south coast today

“An album that speaks
to the times”

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“It’s too soon to tell whether Outskirts Of Love is the end of a trilogy or simply the next chapter in an ongoing saga,” writes Jim Allen on NPR’s First Listen.

All we know for sure is that it’s the third album to find Shemekia Copeland extending her definition of modern blues to include a sort of pan-Americana approach. […]  With crucial contributions from her manager/producer/songwriter John Hahn, Copeland has crafted an album that speaks to the times. A third of the songs are originals co-written by Hahn and guitarist Oliver Wood (of folk-rock band The Wood Brothers), and instead of trudging through blues tropes, Crossbone Beach, Cardboard Box and the title track speak to, for and about working people who sweat their way through modern-day America’s injustices, traps and hypocrisies […]

But Copeland’s genre-melding fluidity would be for naught if she didn’t possess such a powerhouse voice. She brings a perfect balance of authority and understatement to each song, whether it hails from Music City or the Mississippi Hill Country. As long as she’s got that going for her, who cares how the results are labeled?

Read the whole (great) review on NPR’s First Listen. And listen to the whole album!LOGO npr

 

Outskirts of Love is available at Alligator RecordsLOGO Alligator Records

“So super-special”

Shemekia Copeland’s upcoming release on Alligator Records, Outskirts Of Love, receives a stellar 4-star review in MOJO Magazine (issue 263).

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“It’s Copeland’s voice, part Koko Taylor, part Mavis Staples and capable of incredible expression, that makes this so super-special,” writes Lois Wilson.

Listen to Outskirts of Love
on Billboard

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“Shemekia Copeland isn’t calling her new Outskirts of Love a concept album. But it does have a thematic thread that runs through its 12 blues-and-R&B-infused songs, from the title track to the closing rendition of Jessie Mae Hemphill’s Lord, Help The Poor And Needy,” writes Gary Graff, who interviewed Shemekia for Billboard magazine.

“On this particular record I just think everybody in the (songs) is on the outskirts,” Shemekia told the award-winning music journalist. “Whether they’re homeless or being date-raped or can’t find the right partner in life or looking for justice in some sort of way and they can’t find it, it’s all about people on the outskirts.”

The magazine also premieres the title track which, according to Gary Graff, “reflects the tone” of the album.

Read the full article and listen to Outskirts of Love on Billboard.LOGO billboard

 

“The album of the maturity”

150902 Blues Again

“The album of the maturity for the ‘New Queen of the Blues’, because that is how the City of Chicago officially named her. 36 years old, 20 of which she spent singing the blues, and with such great talent! This Voice opened for the Rolling Stones. Then the Obamas invited her to perform at the White House. What else? Well, this eighth album! Never has Shemekia sounded better.”

This is how Juan Marquez Léon starts his review of Outskirts of Love in Blues Again, a French webzine. The author then describes the songs, before writing his conclusion: “I have to stop my review here. I am afraid my boss will fire me because I am too long. If this album is not chosen as Album of the year, I promise, I swear, I will go and review bananas and lettuces in hell!”

Read the whole review (in French) in Blues Again.LOGO blues again

 

PS: Note the genre the magazine gave to the album: “Shemekia Copeland!”

Outskirts of Love to premiere
on NPR’s First Listen

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NPR Music’s influential First Listen will host the premiere of Shemekia’s Outskirts Of Love, beginning Thursday, September 3 and running through the CD’s September 11 release date. Initial radio response has been stellar —the album was the #1 Most Added Triple A Record for the week of August 24 on the FMQB chart.

Mojo magazine says, “It is Copeland’s thrilling voice, part Koko Taylor, part Mavis Staples and capable of incredible expression, that makes Outskirts Of Love so super-special. Spectacular, stirring, sanctified and sassy… at the crossroads where funk meets blues rock. Her band, led by producer Oliver Wood, and featuring guests Billy F Gibbons, Robert Randolph, Alvin Youngblood Hart and Will Kimbrough, is faultless throughout.”

Read Alligator Records’ full press release.