Well, I do agree, the blues ain’t pretty. But svelte torch singer Janiva Magness sure is a sight for sore eyes.
In addition to belting out the blues and fronting her own band in Southern California, she plays that wacky percussion corset known in Zydeco circles as a “Da Rubboard,” or da Madonna (you get the picture, a form-fitting corset of steel with large – ummmm – protuberances in front, and a rippled texture, with which she strokes her fingerpicks on a Cajun beat)!
This is not her first recording, but certainly her most self-assured, and Janiva has a flock of distinguished guest artists to sweeten the mix, including red hot guitarist David “Kid” Ramos, husband and talented bassist/saxman/guitarist Jeff Turmes, and “Brother Red” Young on Hammond B3. This album rocks, from the can’t-stop-tappin’-yer-feet rockabilly of “Blues Ain’t Pretty,” title tune written by Turmes, to the irresistible minor blues “Nobody Loves You Like Me,” featuring hot licks by Ramos on guitar and a lusty vocal reminiscent of Bonnie Raitt at her nittiest and grittiest.
The performances of all ensemble members are top-notch, making this a blues album to cherish and play over and over again. –
This article originally appeared in VG‘s March ’02 issue. All copyrights are by the author and Vintage Guitar magazine. Unauthorized replication or use is strictly prohibited.