Talking to Strangers

We’re in Etta James territory here, with shades of Lydia Pense and a touch of Tina Turner. But make no mistake about it: Twenty-three-year-old Shemekia Copeland is her own woman, as her voice and the lyrics she sings will surely tell you. Soulful, gutsy, gospelly at times—and funny—she’ll tell you how it is, how it should be, how it’s gonna be.

Produced by the near-infamous Mac “Dr. John” Rebbenack (who is partly responsible for the New Orleans vibe of this album), Talking to Strangers (Alligator Records, 2002; has his fingerprints all over it. Dr. John plays piano and organ on the album, wrote some of the songs and sings with Copeland on the playful “The Push I Need.”

Some of the best songs are written by the team of Hahn (who also plays percussion on “The Push I Need") and Hudson. In “Ka-Ching,” she advises women to teach their errant lovers a lesson: “Grab his credit cards and head out the door/ and don’t come home until you buy the whole store/ Ka-ching ching ching ching/ He’s gonna pay for a whole lotta things.”

Copeland closes with “Pie in the Sky,” written by her beloved father and blues legend, the late Johnny Copeland, who said he knew when Shemekia was a little girl that she was destined to be a great singer.

If you need a dose of sassy, a little blues pick-me-up, pick up Talking to Strangers and let Shemekia tell you all about it.