ChinahBlac - Introducing Eugenia Shata (2009)

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Known best for her background and arrangement work with Jill Scott and Erykah Badu, Chinahblac at last steps out of the Bag Lady's large shadow. After one listen, we're grateful Chinahblac is claiming some much deserved sun. An accomplished vocal stylist with distinct jazz and blues phrasing, after several years of working with Badu, Chinahblac does have traces of the star resonating on her sinewy pipes. Yet, Chinahblac's tremendous voice and material is darker and more grittily down to earth than the otherworldly Badu, like listening to Badu sing early Tweet. The pained relationship focused lyrics are direct and arranged to highlight the singer's irresistible creativity on several live recorded tracks. Occasionally it's the production here that is the soft spot on this hard as nails debut, with Daniel Jones, Aaron "Freedom" Lyles and Chinahblac herself too often mixing down the artist's most piercing moments. It's an issue we suspect will be handled on the many future recordings we yearn to hear from the courageous lady who finally let it go, let it go, let it go-to become her own shining star. Notable songs: "Get Away," "Woe," "Your Will" and "Keep Your Word."

Vocals: 4 stars Lyrics: 4 stars Music: 3 stars Production: 2.5 stars SoulTracks Call: Highly Recommended

By: L. Michael Gipson


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