Bury Him at the Crossroads
In the red-hot blues-mama sweepstakes, Janiva Magness certainly sounds like a leading contender. The Southern California-based blues singer has a hell of a voice, which occasionally falls into clichéd blues-mama growling, but not enough to make you want to toss this in favor of an Etta James classic. Still, what makes this set really work is its sonic bar-room ambience, which kicks off with a dirty Los Lobos vibe on “A Woman Knows,” propelled by Jeff Turmes’ stinky baritone-sax honks, and then careens through a dozen more swell cuts. A special shout-out must go to guitarist Colin Linden, who co-produced this with Magness. Linden lays down some tasty fret-board testifying here, and his guitar work serves as the perfect counterpoint to Magness’ voice. And anyone who covers Oliver Sain deserves a thumbs up, too.