2017– New Sun Records
By Phillip Smith; May 12, 2018
The latest release from Juno Award winning Crystal Shawanda is about as good as it gets. Growing up in Ontario and introduced to the Blues by her brother at a young age, Shawanda has been playing paid gigs since the age of ten. Voodoo Woman, her sixth album since 2008, is simply fabulous. Of the ten tracks on this record, Shawanda delivers seven magnificent covers, and three outstanding original tracks of her own. Shawanda’s band is composed of Dewayne Strobel on all guitars, Dave Roe and Michael Dearing on bass guitars, Louis Windfield, and Darren James on drums and percussion, Stephen Hanner on harmonica, Dana Robbins on saxophone and Peter Keys on the B3 organ.
Shawanda takes on Willie Dixon and Howlin’ Wolf with a riveting two song medley of “Wang Dang Doodle / Smokestack Lightnin’”. Strobel shines on slide guitar as Hanner wonderfully wails on harp. It sounds great. More power vocals follow on title track “Voodoo Woman”, a fitting homage to the late great Koko Taylor. Shawanda brings it back on her beautiful cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind”. I love this song, and this version sounds amazing. I’m also head-over-heels for her cover of Bob Montgomery’s “Misty Blue”, which was also covered by Etta James in 2011 on her Dreamer album. Robbins’ saxophone adds a lovely touch to the song.
“Cry Out For More”, an original co-written by guitarist Strobel is a smooth blues-rocker which comes to an end in full shin-dig form. Shawanda’s vocals carry the perfect measure of rasp, reminiscent of the magnificent Bonnie Raitt. Strobel conjures up a cool twangy groove accented by a suave horn accompaniment on “Trouble”, another one of Shawanda’s originals. With a tight band behind her, she approaches the mic with a fearless attitude.
Voodoo Woman is such a delightful listen; I give it my highest recommendation.
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