Old tricks, new dogs
Chonita Turner, Jav-Lyn, and Lady Lotion
Apart from touring acts like Buddy Guy and local blues jams, there exists a whole group of R&B/blues clubs that see few white faces but are no less valid for their self-containment (perhaps even more so). This album--recorded live at the short-lived Texas Blues Cafe last year--features three female vocalists more familiar to that South Dallas circuit than the denizens of Deep Ellum: Chonita Turner, Jav-Lyn, and Lady Lotion. Taken together, their work stands as an indicator that popular cachet (or the lack thereof) doesn't necessarily mean squat. All three women have strong, gospel-based deliveries more than capable of dominating chestnuts like "If Loving You is Wrong" or "Do Right Woman." Turner, the youngest of the three, has the most finely drawn voice; Lady Lotion, the deepest vocal character; and Jav-Lyn the most robust, with an affection for a Koko Taylor-esque growl/roar. While the listener may sometimes wish for more challenging fare in terms of song choice, the singers seem in no way turned off by the familiarity of the tunes.
All About Satellites and Spaceships
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There's a lot about this album that says one small step for a band, one giant leap onto the space-rock bandwagon: the album title, the picture of the astronaut on the sleeve, the song titles. Fortunately, the music--while definitely of that type--is presented with freshness and conviction enough to refute any accusations of derivation. Denser than Bedhead's spare ruminations, smoother than Bag's acidulous assaults, Austin-based 7% Solution projects obtuse lyrics onto aural moodscapes and thereby produces the kind of music that gradually seeps in around the edges of the listener's perception, gently creating a kind of Rorschach test for the ears. Particularly commendable is the band's decision to put two identical discs in one package and encourage you to give the other to a friend.
Barbara Saint John
Mystic Pilgrim Music
Appearances are likewise deceiving on Emily. From the somewhat stiff daguerreotype-style poses she strikes on the front and back album covers, you might expect delicate hearts-and-flowers-style folk. While that school is well represented, St. John is equally comfortable with fully blown rock-pop that Trisha Yearwood, et al. might envy. A finalist at Kerrville last year in the New Folk category, St. John has a clear, sweet voice--almost girlish--and a good ear for melody that counterbalances a certain hokeyness that crops up from time to time in her lyrics. Still, this--her second album--has real promise, and "Hit Record in Iceland" is one of the funniest songs about struggling in the music biz I've heard lately.