Album Reviews

Thornetta Davis

Honest Woman

Artist:     Thornetta Davis

Album:     Thornetta Davis

Label:     Sweet Mama Music

Release Date:     10/21/2016


Every major city, both here in the U.S. and abroad, probably has its own popular blues acts that don’t travel much beyond the local area. This seems to be the case for Detroit’s “Queen of the Blues,” Thornetta Davis. She is literally the composite of all the major styles of African-American music sans jazz, and is a mash-up of some iconic female singers like Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton and Aretha. Yes, this is high praise but I’m not kidding. Her voice has the versatility to both caress slow ballads and belt out raw stompers. It’s about time more of us outside of the Detroit area got to hear this lady sing.

Joined by Betty LaVette’s guitarist and co-songwriter on some tracks, Brett Lucas, the album features some of Detroit’s best players replete with horns and background singers. Notable guests like Kim Wilson and Larry McCray’s Band appear as well. This album takes you on a journey, beginning with sister, Felicia Davis’ Delta blues “When My Sister Sings the Blues” followed by a rather jarring segue way into Thornetta’s “I Gotta Sang The Blues,” featuring Kim Wilson’s harmonica. The Larry McCray Band backs her on the gospel-infused “Set Me Free.” Some of the best tracks are the ballad-like tunes co-written with Lucas: “I’d Rather Be Alone” and “Can We Do It Again.”

The background singers are so prominent on most of the tracks that on first listen I thought this was a gospel album disguised as a blues album. Yet, it’s really just infused with gospel elements. Call Thornetta a blues singer, a soul singer, or a gospel singer. It doesn’t matter. She’s got it. She’s a Queen, and an honest woman.

Also, here’s a quick PSA from Briggs Farm: Detroit’s “Queen of the Blues,” Thornetta Davis, is coming to Briggs Farm! She will be playing Saturday night, July 8 AND Sunday July 9th’s “Gos-Blues” show! Her incredible voice and undeniable feel for the Blues has let her open up for everyone from Ray Charles to Buddy Guy, and The Farm is ready for her give two powerful performances!

—Jim Hynes

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