Love Wins Again
Fathead/Blue Elan Records
File Under Red Hot and Smoking Jazzy, Soulful Blues.
How on earth have I never heard of Janiva Magness before now? Everything about her extensive CV; dating back 11 albums to 1991 (presumably when she was still at school #wink) sounds like the type of husky voiced Blues singer that I love; plus she has recorded 3 albums on the fabulous Alligator Records.
Hey ho; enough about the past; onto the present and indeed…the future.
First of all; the album cover is outstanding; the picture of a beautiful woman with a pair of boxing gloves slung over her shoulder immediately caught my attention; and a week later that juxtaposition really does sum up the fabulous songs contained within.
The title track Love Wins Again; which has been rightfully selected as a single, kick starts the album like a musical defibrillator; with the singers smoky voice masking a deep and meaningful story of a woman hanging on to a fractious relationship by the skin of her teeth and her belief that ‘Love Will Win Through.’
Reading Janiva’s back story; she has suffered some really dark periods in her life; but chinks of light are finally showing through the cracks; and that comes out in the delicious ‘Torch Song’ When You Hold Me; which features some really cool guitar licks and a vocal performance somewhere between Dusty Springfield and Beth Hart.
That darkness shrouds Doorway like the quilt Magness mentions in the first verse; and the uncomfortable song beautifully straddles Midnight Soul and Chicago Blues as well as anyone did in the heyday of Stax or Atlantic Records.
Played late at night; with the lights down low the likes of Long As I Can See The Light, with its Gospel undertones and the smouldering Rain Down will reduce many a strong woman (or man) to a quivering wreck; but will also make them press ‘repeat’ as they listen intently to the eloquent lyrics and super smooth production; which makes Magnuss’ voice swoop and soar like a swallow on the wing.
While most of the songs can be described as ballads; in one form or another tucked away in the middle is a real foot stompin’ shouter of a Blues tune in Your House is Burnin’ Down; which allows full blast to the normally subdued horn section; plus Magness gets to show she can ‘belt them out’ with the best.
Yet again I’m torn between two songs for the title of ‘favourite;’ Long As I Can See The Light features some intricate piano and guitar interplay, while showcasing the singers ‘life well lived’ velvety voice; but I keep getting drawn back to Moth To a Flame; which has a timeless quality to it and is begging to have a video made in a late night Jazz Club; with harsh lighting and a teary eyed couple on the dance-floor; hanging onto each other as if the world will end if they let loose their grip.
What else can I say? This has been a real heartbreaking joy; from start to finish and if there is even just one ounce of justice in this musical world; it won’t just be her producer Dave Darling who has ‘Grammy Nominated’ next to their name.
Released April 8th 2016