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Janiva Magness: Do I Move You?

When something works well the first time, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work equally well next time. That’s the case with Janiva Magness on her latest release Do I Move You?--a reunion with producer Colin Linden who performed similar duties on last year’s Bury Him At The Crossroads. Magness always delivers the goods with her passionate, high class delivery, and oftentimes brash style, the very qualities that put her in the lineage of Bessie Smith, Ruth Brown, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and Nina Simone.

Actually, as this review is being assembled, my concentration is veering from the task at hand as the background stereo emits audio waves of delight: the point of attention being Janiva’s starkly emotional treatment of the stunning Nina Simone title track. You can’t help but notice her naturalness and ease, qualities that all the grand dames of Blues and Soul have possessed in spades.

This time out she returns to her established palette of R&B, Soul, and Funk, for which she has an intuitive grasp. A lot is due to that impeccable phrasing of hers. Whether wailing, moaning, purring, or declaring, her sense of authority seems channeled through the cavalcade of Blues, Soul, and R&B empresses.

Guitar duties are handled by a veteran troika: Linden, Rick Holmstrom (ex-Rod Piazza & Flyers guitarist), and Jeff Turmes whose association with Magness is longstanding. About half the 11 tracks are originals--written by Linden or Turmes--while the entrancing covers have never been diminished by excessive overexposure.

Janiva’s natural sense of swing, accompanied by full-bodied passion and flair are revealed on hair-raising selections like "I’m Just A Prisoner," "I Can’t Stop Cryin’," "Willie Dixon’s Workin’ On Me Baby" and especially, the horn-saturated "I Give Up." That one could enliven a funeral! Bad Blood is firmly entrenched down New Orleans way, and guitarist/co-writer Turmes plus the ever-present Richard Bell on keyboards lay down a funky delicious groove. Party time!

"Stealing Sugar" is flush with seductive defiance, while Delbert McClinton’s "You Were Never Mine" smokes thanks to Janiva’s sultry delivery. Another soulful offering is I Want You To Have Everything, a nostalgic throwback to such Motown and Soul ladies like Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, and Baby Washington. The streets of Detroit fade into the Mississippi backroads on Don’t Let Your Memories.

In its entirety, this is a strongly convincing odyssey of 20th century Blues, and should further enhance the reputation of this most talented Blues and Soul lady. It can be ordered at www.northernblues.com.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Janiva Magness
  • Subtitle: Yes Janiva, You Do Move Me!
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