Meeting My Shadow
With such a dearth of credible female blues artists on today’s music scene, it is refreshing to hear the latest release from Vanessa Collier, the follow-up to her 2014 release, Heart Soul & Saxophone. The award-winning, soulful songstress offers the whole package on her sophomore album – top-notch songwriting and sultry, R&B-soaked vocals that are complemented by her sizzling saxophone. She also plays an entire arsenal of other instruments on various songs, backed by a lengthy list of studio musicians including Laura Chavez, guitarist for the late Candye Kane. In addition, Collier co-produced the record along with Kevin Houston and Thomas Ruf. A Berklee College of Music graduate, Collier quickly became a fan favorite while touring with Joe Louis Walker and then moved onto a solo recording career. From the first note of the eleven-song CD, I was hooked. Eight of the eleven tracks were written by Collier, with three phenomenal covers that she makes her own.
Collier kicks it off with songs such as “Poisoned the Well,” “Dig A Little Deeper,” “When It Don’t Come Easy,” “Whiskey and Women” and the brilliant “Devil’s On the Downslide,” which, as she suggests, are songs “about shared struggles, empowerment and perseverance that make you feel like you can overcome any obstacle.” But she also reassures us that “this album is then balanced out with witty, playful songs that make light of life,” including “Two Parts Sugar, One Part Lime” and “Meet Me Where I’m At.” “Cry Out,” a true statement song for today’s turbulent times, rounds out Collier’s original pieces.
The three covers are gorgeous, including Deadric Malone’s “You’re Gonna Make Me Cry,” Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s anthemic “Up Above My Head, I Hear Music In the Air” and an absolutely killer interpretation of U2’s “When Love Comes to Town,” which U2 originally recorded with B.B. King. This version truly shines as a stripped down, bluesier reincarnation of the original with some tasty guitar work.
I’m a huge fan of artists who write their own material, and Collier has proven that she has the chops not only to survive in the music biz, but to flourish. This is a great record, indeed, one that I regularly have in the rotation. With this being only her second effort, I definitely look forward to a long and illustrious career from her. The rich, smoky nuances of her voice will win over any music lover, and her multi-instrumental background only adds to her appeal.