Thornetta Davis - Honest Woman (2017)

Thornetta Davis
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Thornetta Davis - Honest Woman

Chris Rizik, our fearless leader, and I have a long-distance dialogue whenever he asks me to review a project like Thornetta Davis’ Honest Woman. The inside joke is that I get to review these southern soul, retro, soul or retrospective projects because, well - to put it gently – I’m a senior writer on staff in terms of tenure and, ahem, age. I can’t really argue because it’s true that I am nobody’s idea of a spring chicken. Besides, as long as the music’s good, I’m more than willing to be in on the gag, and make no mistake: Davis’ Honest Woman is very good.

Thornetta Davis - Honest Woman

Chris Rizik, our fearless leader, and I have a long-distance dialogue whenever he asks me to review a project like Thornetta Davis’ Honest Woman. The inside joke is that I get to review these southern soul, retro, soul or retrospective projects because, well - to put it gently – I’m a senior writer on staff in terms of tenure and, ahem, age. I can’t really argue because it’s true that I am nobody’s idea of a spring chicken. Besides, as long as the music’s good, I’m more than willing to be in on the gag, and make no mistake: Davis’ Honest Woman is very good.

Davis herself is something of a Detroit blues and northern soul institution. She has been fronting bands or performing as a solo artist in the Detroit area since the late 1980s, and, in a town known for audiences with discerning ears, Davis’ enduring presence is likely the greatest endorsement that an artist can receive. She’s won numerous Detroit Music Awards, and has shared states with the likes of Bonnie Raitt, Kid Rock, Ray Charles, Gladys Knight and Smokey Robinson, to name a few.

Davis’ song “Cry” from her 1996 debut album Sunday Morning Music was featured in the HBO series “The Sopranos.” The rock infused funky blues of “Cry” was in ideal fit for “The Sopranos,” but that tune not only great track on that album.  Check out “And I Spin” to get an idea of how Davis handles a ballad.

Davis returns with Honest Woman, her fourth album overall and second featuring her original music, and this project showcases her virtues as a vocalist who can move seamlessly among hard charging blues rock, gospel infused soul and country styled blues to the swinging jazz of the rollicking “Get Up and Dance Away Your Blues.”

Davis is a gifted songwriter who penned every tune on this 13 track album with the exception of “When My Sister Sings the Blues,” a spoken word piece written by Davis’ sister Felicia. Davis shows that she specializes in giving no-account, unfaithful men their comeuppance on tracks such as the rock blues number “That Don’t Appease Me” and the straight up blues of “I’d Rather Be Alone.” She’s also willing to give a good man his due on tunes like the title track, a southern soul number where the singer expresses gratitude on her wedding day to the man who took her away from the one night stands.

Davis often occupies that space where the sacred and the secular intersect, and she has the ability to make music that honors the divine without being overtly religious. “Feels Like Religion” is a is a funky number that recognizes that gaining a greater level of self-understanding, acceptance and love is a spiritual experience, while “I Believe (Everything Gon’ Be Alright)” is a blues gospel shouter that affirms the virtue of believing that all things do indeed work for the good.

Perhaps I will grow tired of reviewing these ‘retro’ projects. The one thing that I have learned from 10 years of working for Soultracks is that there are plenty of indie and mainstream artists doing some cutting edge and compelling work. I get my share of those as well. But I’ve got no problem with being known as the classic soul guy if Chris keeps sending me quality work such as Honest Woman. Highly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

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