Even though her father, the late Johnny Copeland, may have opened some doors for his daughter, Shemekia Copeland has been causing a buzz since the late 90's with her powerful voice and commanding stage presence. Her third release, Talking To Strangers, picks up where the 2000 Grammy-nominated CD Wicked left off as Copeland pushes her musical aspirations farther than ever.
Produced by the legendary Dr. John (who plays on every track), the record takes elements of R&B, Rock and Roll, Soul, Blues with a touch of New Orleans 'fonk' and wraps them tightly together creating a nice balance of diverse influences. Shemekia draws from many wells while making the music completely her own. Shemekia Copeland might have the best chance for cross-over potential this time around with up-beat and funk driven song 'Livin' On Love' (written by acclaimed songwriter Gary Nicholson) while the heartfelt ballad, 'Don't Whisper' could easily find its way onto the R&B charts. The singer flirts with jazz with a Billie Holiday approach on the soulful 'Happy Valentines Day'. One of the many highlights to this recording happens when Dr. John steps up to the microphone for a tasty duet on 'The Push I Need'. With a pre-solo Tina Turner attitude, 'Pie In The Sky' is a pure rock and roll statement to wrap things up with a bang.
While the young singer has drawn resemblance to Soul-inflected female artists such as Koko Taylor and Etta James, Shemekia Copeland is clearly coming into her own. Talking To Strangers is a testament to the 23 year olds ability to grow and musically diversify without losing touch with her blues roots.
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This review is copyright © 2002 by Tony Engelhart, and Blues On Stage at: www.mnblues.com, all rights reserved. Copy, duplication or download prohibited without written permission.
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