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JANIVA MAGNESS/ “Love Is An Army” (Blue Élan BER1072)


Seven times “Blues Award” winner Janiva has some fine guests on this set – not that this Los Angeles based singer actually needs them, as anyone who has heard her music before can testify, and this is her fourteenth album – but it does mean that Delbert McClinton duets (instantly recognisably) with her on the country ballad ‘What Could I Do’, and Delbert’s mix of blues, country, soul, R&B, and Americana is a good reference point for the percolating music on this album. Janiva opens the set with the beautiful lilting soul of ‘Back To Blue’ before Charlie Musselwhite’s wailing harmonica announces the tough, driving blues of ‘Hammer’; Rusty Young’s wonderful pedal steel playing is all over ‘On And On’ before Janiva moves back to the blues with the fine, moody sound of ‘Tell Me’, which also features some tough electric guitar playing by producer Dave Darling.
The title track is an acoustic-based ballad, with Texas singer/ songwriter Bryan Stephens helping out on vocals, and Courtney Harman of bluegrass band Della Mae supplies banjo and guitar to the traditional-sounding ‘Down Below’. ‘What’s That Say About You’ is a classic and classy mid-tempo soul beater, and Cedric Burnside guests on ‘Home’, with archaic gospel styled vocals and a raw Mississippi hill country-inflected sound. Doug Livingston’s pedal steel features heavily in the passionate ballad ‘Love To A Gunfight’ and the quieter ‘When It Rains’, before this excellent album closes with the gospel piano and vocal of ‘Some Kind Of Love’. Throughout these dozen songs, Janiva’s vocals are exemplary, the material is richly melodic, and the lyrics meaningful.
Norman Darwen
(www.janivamagness.com)

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May 2018

1
John Prine
67 pts.
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records
JJC,MB,SP,RM
2
Levi Parham
58 pts.
It's All Good
Continental Records
CRS,JB,TK
3
Jeb Barry and the Pawn Shop Saints
55 pts.
Texas, etc...
DollyRocker
HDB,CVL,DHO
4
Michael McDermott
54 pts.
Out From Under
Continental Song City
JDO,LK,BK
5
Sam Morrow
48 pts.
Concrete and Mud
Forty Below Records
MA,JBO,HB
6
Caleb Caudle
39 pts.
Crushed Coins
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
7
Western Centuries
36 pts.
Songs From The Deluge
Free Dirt Records
MF
8
Carter Sampson
34 pts.
Lucky
Continental Song City
 
9
Charley Crockett
30 pts.
Lonesome as a Shadow
Son of Davy/30 Tigers
 
10
Courtney Marie Andrews
28 pts.
May Your Kindness Remain
Loose Music
JV
11
Ed Romanoff
27 pts.
The Orphan King
Pinerock Records
 
 
Joan Baez
27 pts.
Whistle Down The Wind
Proper Records
HD
 
Pharis and Jason Romero
27 pts.
Sweet Old Religion
Lula Records
SZ,LM
14
Gretchen Peters
24 pts.
Dancing With The Beast
Proper Records
KG
 
Old Crow Medicine Show
24 pts.
Volunteer
Columbia Records
GF
 
Will Stewart
24 pts.
County Seat
Cornelius Chapel Records
 
17
Ben Reel
22 pts.
Land Of Escape
B REEL Records
GC,FC
 
Birds Of Chicago
22 pts.
Love In Wartime
Signature Sounds
 
 
Emily Herring
22 pts.
Gliding
Eight 30 Records
RST,RH
20
Jenny van West
21 pts.
Happiness To Burn
Independent
PJ,FS,JJ
 
Mary Gauthier
21 pts.
Rifles And Rosary Beads
In the Black Records
 
22
Sarah Shook & The Disarmers
20 pts.
Years
Bloodshot Records
FCE
23
David Starr
19 pts.
South And East
Independent
HM
24
Cold Tone Harvest
18 pts.
After You
Independent
 
25
Grant Peeples
17 pts.
Settling Scores vol. 2
Continental

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