Whether she’s belting out a raucous blues-rocker, firing up a blistering soul-shouter, bringing the spirit to a gospel-fueled R&B rave-up or digging deep down into a subtle, country-tinged ballad, Shemekia Copeland sounds like no one else. With a voice that is alternately sultry, assertive and roaring, Shemekia’s wide-open vision of contemporary blues, roots and soul music showcases the evolution of a passionate artist with a modern musical and lyrical approach. The Chicago Tribune says Copeland delivers “gale force singing and power” with a “unique, gutsy style, vibrant emotional palette and intuitive grasp of the music.” NPR Music calls her “fiercely expressive.”
Copeland’s return to Alligator Records with Outskirts Of Love (she recorded four albums for the label from 1998 through 2006) finds her at her most charismatic, performing roots rock, Americana, and blues with power and authority, nuance and shading. Produced by The Wood Brothers’ Oliver Wood, Outskirts Of Love is a musical tour-de-force, with Copeland rocking out on the title track, taking charge in Crossbone Beach, honoring her father, the late Johnny Clyde Copeland with her Afrobeat-infused take on his Devil’s Hand, tackling homelessness on Cardboard Boxand showing off her country swagger on Drivin’ Out Of Nashville. She puts her stamp on songs made famous by Solomon Burke (I Feel A Sin Coming On), Jesse Winchester (Isn’t That So), Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee (The Battle Is Over), Creedence Clearwater Revival (Long As I Can See The Light), ZZ Top (Jesus Just Left Chicago), Albert King (Wrapped Up In Love Again), and Jessie Mae Hemphill (Lord, Help The Poor And Needy). Friends including Billy F Gibbons, Robert Randolph, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Will Kimbrough and Pete Finney all add their talent with unbridled enthusiasm.
The result is the most decidedly contemporary and musically adventurous album of Copeland’s still-evolving career.