Lady Bianca

It’s goin’ be stanky,” Lady Bianca Thornton snarls on “Blues Fonk,” the gospel piano-anchored opening track. “It’s goin’ be janky.” Mostly, it is. Oakland-based Thornton’s apparent role model is Argo/Cadet-era Etta James, whose voice and sassy attitude Thornton’s resemble, but this 12-cut CD has a more churchy vibe than you’ll find on most vintage Chess sides; there’s heaping helpings of Hammond B-3 organ and piano and some gospel-ish background vocals, too. Thornton co-wrote all these tunes with Stanley Lippitt, who also helped produce the set. While much of this material cops a stock blues-mama P.O.V.—“you’re shaggin’ my sugar daddy, so now I’m fixin’ to arrange your funeral”—Thornton does have a sense of humor, as can be witnessed on “Spendin’ Money,” an ode to shopaholic behavior. However, it’s on the soul ballad workouts, e.g., “Little Drop of Water,” where Lady Bianca truly shines.