by Constance Tucker
It is hard to believe that twenty years has passed since blues vocalist Thornetta Davis, released a CD. She explains “It’s always been about getting it right.” Her career began at age fifteen, she first gained attention in 1987 when she became a backup singer for the Detroit soul band “Lamont Zodiac and The Love Signs”. Shortly after, the lead singer left the band and the name changed to “The Chisel Brothers featuring Thornetta Davis”. In 1996 Thornetta recorded her first solo album “Sunday Morning Music” on the Seattle based label “Sub Pop” which received a rave review in the national Entertainment Weekly magazine. Her song “Cry” from that album was featured on the HBO hit “The Sopranos.” Now marks the release of Honest Woman, which instantly exposes Davis’ mature, impressive vocal instrument.
Edgy urban blues is on the plate, in the honest and traditional sense, her tunes stay true to the trials and troubles of lost love and heartbreak, yet a glimmer of hope is laced into the mix by a woman who can bring home the bacon and tenderly fry it up in the pan whenever she desires. Davis wrote all the tunes, exhibiting her prowess as a composer. “I Gotta Sing the Blues” kicks things off as a duet with harmonica luminary Kim Wilson of the Fabulous Thunderbirds. It sets the tone for a barn burning ride that doesn’t let up. Tunes like “That Don’t Appease Me,” is a guitar laden rocker, whereas “Set Me Free,” is gospel tinged and a deeply emotive tune.
“I’d Rather Be Alone,” is a sensual tune from the Etta James vein, a tune that scores the nicks and dings that hard knocks can endow on a being, it is here Davis truly shows her expertise.
Gospel infused blues is the style I think shows a blues singer’s true roots and on “I Believe (Everything Gonna Be Alright)” hits the spot like a bullseye. “Sister Friends Indeed,” is an anthem to women everywhere to support, stand behind and lift up one another.
“Feels Like Religion,” ends the proceedings with a true old fashioned raise the roof, and share the good news vibe, and Davis is testifying.
Thornetta Davis is a modern blues warrior, that harkens what the good old fashioned blues singer had to offer. Truth, grit, and a foundation of understanding what life has expressed through her lyrics. Her commanding voice and honest delivery, is a perfect vehicle for the blues genre to hail their hero. Well done, a clear triumph.
Track Listing: When My Sister Sings The Blues; I Gotta Sing The Blues; That Don’t Appease Me; Set Me Free; Am I Just A Shadow; I Need A Whole Lotta Lovin To Satisfy me; I’d Rather Be Alone; I Believe (Everything Gonna Be Alright); Sister Friends Indeed; Get Up And Dance Away Your Blues; Can We Do It Again; Honest Woman; Feels Like Religion.
Personnel: Thornetta Davis: lead vocals; Kim Wilson: vocal, harmonica (2); Brian (Roscoe) White: guitar (1); Brett Lucas: guitar; James Simonson: bass; Phillip J. Cale: keyboards; Todd Glass: drums; James (Jamalot) Anderson: percussion; Roseann Matthews: backing vocals; Rosemere Matthews: backing vocals; Larry McCray: guitar (4); Steve McCray: drums (4); Kerry Clark: bass; Chris Codish: keys (4); Alvin Waddles: backing vocals (4); Lori Waddles: backing vocals (4); Kiara Thomas: backing vocals (4); Kevin Stewart: backing vocals (4); Chandra Lewis: backing vocals (4); Amani Henry: backing vocals (4); Dana L. Davis: backing vocals (4); Luis resto: keys (5); James O’Donnell: trumpet; John Paxton: trombone; Dave McMurray: sax; John Douglas: trumpet; Chuck Bartels: bass (9); Dave Maracaccio: crums (9); Paul Carey: guitar (10); Marcus Belgrave: trumpet (10); Edward Gooch: trombone (10); Rayse Biggs: trumpet (10); Jeff Canady: drums (11); Paul Randolph: bass (12); Skeeto Valdez: drums (12); Crystal Matthews: backing vocals (13); Andre Delano: backing vocals (13); Diane Marie Mathis: backing vocals (13); Anne Wilhelm: backing vocals (13); Lynette Smith: backing vocals (13); Juliaette Hamilton: backing vocals (13).