Thornetta Davis – Honest Woman | Album Review

thornettadaviscdThornetta Davis – Honest Woman

Sweet Mama Music (Self Produced)

13 tracks

This CD has been 20 years in the making.  Thornetta Davis is the Queen of Detroit’s blues scene with over 30 Detroit Music Awards to her name.  She began her career with Lamont Zodiac and the Love Signs, who became The Chisel Brothers featuring Thornetta Davis when the lead singer departed.  Her first solo album was released in 1996, entitled Sunday Morning Music on Seattle’s Sub Pop label.  The HBO Series The Sopranos picked up “Cry” from that album and Entertainment Weekly magazine gave the CD a hugely positive review.

Having opened for a host of the music scene greats and appearing on albums with the likes of Bob Seger, Davis has toured the world and garnered praise for her live performances and her music in film and television.   It has been 20 years since that first CD and with it we get to hear the superb voice and music from this fantastic diva of the blues!  The CD features some great guest artists, including Kim Wilson, Larry McCray, Steve McCray and Kerry Clark.

The album opens with a poem by Davis’ sister Felicia.  “When My Sister Sings the Blues” is a touching testimonial about her sisters’ talents with Brian (Roscoe) White playing an ethereal guitar behind Felicia.  The rousing “I Gotta Sang The Blues” is he first song after that and it features native Detroit harp master Kim Wilson.  He and Brett Lucas on guitar do a fabulous job in support as Davis shows us why her music is held in high esteem.  Wilson wails on harp, delivering a duet with davis and a poignant solo.  The song closes in rousing fashion with guitar, backup singers, Davis and the rest of the band blowing things up!

“That Don’t Appease Me” is a rocking blues with a steady groove.  Davis shows a lot of sass as she tells her man she’s not appeased as she tosses him out.  Lucas offers a nice solo on guitar.  Next up is “Set Me Free,” Gospel infused blues with a chorus of backing vocalists taking us to church, Davis delivers an inspired performance.  Larry and Steve McCray (guitar and drums) with Kerry Clark (bass) and Chris Codish (keys) are the band here and make this another hit.  McCray’s guitar stings as he gives us a sweet solo.  “Shadow” is a soulful ballad where Luis Restos does a fine job in support on keys as Davis  backs herself vocally on this moving piece.

“I Need A Whole Lotta Lovin’ To Satisfy Me” where regular backline men James Simonson(bass) and and Todd Glass (drums) lay out a cool groove.  Phillip J. Hale bangs out some nice piano and James O’Donnell (trumpet) and John Paxton (trombone)  provide some sweet horn work.  Lucas on guitar helps drive the beat as Davis tells us, “She needs a whole lotta lovin’!”  Next up is “I’d Rather Be Alone” which adds Dave McMurray on sax and John Douglas on trumpet as Thornetta delivers some slow blues in a very satisfying performance.  She testifies to us and when she was done I believed!  Organ, horns and guitar are well done once again.

“I Believe (Everything Gonna Be Alright)” mixes Gospel, blues and country-infused Americana  to delivers a high energy performance.  Lucas’ slide guitar wails and jumps and Special Annointing does the soulful backing vocals.  Very, very cool stuff here!  Davis delivers what she calls an “Ode to sisterhood” with “Sister Friends Indeed.”  It starts with Davis with Lucas and Chuck Bartels on guitar.  The key changes and the backing vocalists join in for support and a little call and response.  They things change gears again as the whole band chimes.  The song ends with clapping and Davis and her sisters closing things out.  “Get Up and Dance Away Your Blues” is a big number with another horn section (Marcus Belgrave and Rayse Biggs on trumpet and Edward Gooch on trombone) , some great organ work (Hale) and more jumping guitar (Lucas).  This is some very cool jump blues!

“Can We Do It Again” features Davis in a very sexy and soulful number.  Lucas delivers a slow and cool solo on his guitar and great support throughout for us here, too, as does Hale’s organ work.  McMurray and Douglas add sexy punctuation with their horns.  The title track is classic bluesy R&B.  McMurray and Douglas return as Davis’ horn section as they and the band support Davis as she delivers more soulful vocals.  The CD closes to “It Feels Like Religion,” funky bluesy rocking stuff!  Davis gives us a great up tempo closing cut with Gospel infused lead and backing vocals, some more great guitar from Lucas, and nice piano work by Hale.   This is another fantastic song and a super way to end things, leaving the listener with a great memory and the desire to hear more!

Davis penned all the cuts here except for the opening poem.  This is a really well done album by an outstanding singer who has crafted wonderful original tunes and surrounded herself with equally wonderful musicians.  I loved the CD from start to finish.  It is upbeat, cool and a lot of fun.  All I can say to conclude is that I hope it takes far less than 20 years for her to produce her next album because I can’t wait to hear more from her!

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