Love is An Army
Fathead Records/Bluelan Records
Janiva Magness has been nominated for twenty-seven Blues Music Awards. She won the BMA for “Contemporary Female Artist of the Year” five times. Magness is also the only female artist other than Koko Taylor to win a BMA as “Entertainer of The Year”. Currently Magness has received a 2018 nomination for last year’s “Blue Again” in the category of “Traditional Blues Female Artist of The Year”. She also received a Grammy award nomination in 2016.
This is Magness’ fourteenth album. The band includes Magness, vocals; producer Dave Darling, guitar; Davey Faragher, bass; Stephen Hodges, drums; Phil Parlapiano, piano; Arlan Schierbaum, keys; Doug Livingston, pedal steel and Dobro; and the horn section of Darrell Leonard, Joe Sublet and Alfredo Ballesteros. There are also seven background singers and numerous guest artists.
In 2013 the songwriting team of Magness and Darling won a BMA for “Song of The Year”. They have written four new songs. The opener “Back to Blues” is about the end of a relationship. The soulful song, featuring Darling’s guitar and Schierbaum on organ, contains the lyric “that’s what we do, you turn away, and I’m turning back to blue”.
“Hammer” is a contemporary song of protest featuring Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica. The title track “Love is An Army”, “sadness the enemy”, features Bryan Stephens on harmony vocals. “What’s That Say About You” is about lending a helping hand and perhaps my favorite song on this album as we really get to hear Magness’ beautiful voice.
“Tell Me” written by Darling is another socially conscious tune “Did you think your color meant you would somehow be exempt?” “On & On” was co-written by Colin Devlin and Darling and features Rusty Young from Poco on pedal steel. On “Home” Darling teamed up with songwriters Gary and Natasha Pinto and Cedric Burnside is featured on guitar.
Darling has also co-written three songs with the Australian songwriting team of Lauren Bliss and Andrew Lowdon. “Down Below” features Courtney Hartman, playing guitar and banjo, from the all female bluegrass band “Della Mae”. Also written by the trio are “Love to A Gunfight” and “When It Rains” both featuring Young. Bliss and Lowdon also contribute “Some Kind of Love” sung beautifully by Magness with just Parlapiano’s accompaniment.
“What I Could Do” is from Paul Thorn. It’s performed as a duet with guest vocalist Delbert McClinton.
Magness is adventurous as she stretches her blues and reaches into some Americana.
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