Janiva Magness - Reviews

 
Do I Move You?  

"Janiva Magness names her seventh album after the simmering Nina Simone ballad she covers on it. It's a bold move, in a way, but the answer to the question the L.A.-based, Michigan-raised singer poses is a resounding yes.

"This is soul-blues of a very high order. Magness oozes sexual heat as she rolls through vamps like Willie Dixon's "
Workin' on Me Baby" and Denise LaSalle's "A Man Size Job," her gritty forcefulness coupled with a restraint that keeps her from spilling over into caricature. While numbers like the Motownish "I Want You to Have Everything" and the funky "Bad Blood" give the album its saucy energy, her devastating take on Delbert McClinton and Gary Nicholson's Stax-like ballad "You Were Never Mine" offers the ultimate proof that Magness can deliver a lot more than just attitude."

-N.C
The Philadelphia Inquirer
July, 2006 

 
   

"... Magness has created one of the most satisfying albums so far this year."

-John Morthland
No Depression
July-August, 2006 

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"Who? Sultry L.A.-based blues belter

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Sounds like: A little Etta James, Renee Austin, and Marcia Ball

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Is it any good? As a Michigan teen who lost both her parents to suicide and gave her child up for adoption, aggressive blues vocalist Janiva Magness could’ve naturally packed it all in. Instead, this three-time "Blues Music Award" nominee caught the music bug after witnessing Otis Rush and Albert Collins live in concert. Her influences range from vocalists Jackie Wilson to Billie Holiday. On her seventh release, Magness exudes gritty sexiness on Nina Simone’s powerful slow-blues "Do I Move You?" and the guitar-twangin’, rootsy "I’m Just A Prisoner." For sheer dynamic vocal strength, Magness’ emotional pipes lead the way on the soulful R&B numbers, "You Were Never Mine" and "I Want You to Have Everything." Be prepared to be bowled over, folks...Magness has brought the goods and then some.

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Rating: 4-1/2"

-Alan Kurzer
Portfolio Weekly
June 20, 2006 

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"When something works well the first time, there’s no reason it shouldn’t work equally well next time. That’s the case with Janiva Magness on her latest release Do I Move You?--a reunion with producer Colin Linden who performed similar duties on last year’s Bury Him At The Crossroads. Magness always delivers the goods with her passionate, high class delivery, and oftentimes brash style, the very qualities that put her in the lineage of Bessie Smith, Ruth Brown, Etta James, Aretha Franklin, and Nina Simone.

"Actually, as this review is being assembled, my concentration is veering from the task at hand as the background stereo emits audio waves of delight: the point of attention being Janiva’s starkly emotional treatment of the stunning Nina Simone title track. You can’t help but notice her naturalness and ease, qualities that all the grand dames of Blues and Soul have possessed in spades.

"This time out she returns to her established palette of R&B, Soul, and Funk, for which she has an intuitive grasp. A lot is due to that impeccable phrasing of hers. Whether wailing, moaning, purring, or declaring, her sense of authority seems channeled through the cavalcade of Blues, Soul, and R&B empresses.

"Guitar duties are handled by a veteran troika: Linden, Rick Holmstrom (ex-Rod Piazza & Flyers guitarist), and Jeff Turmes whose association with Magness is longstanding. About half the 11 tracks are originals--written by Linden or Turmes--while the entrancing covers have never been diminished by excessive overexposure.

"Janiva’s natural sense of swing, accompanied by full-bodied passion and flair are revealed on hair-raising selections like
I’m Just A Prisoner, I Can’t Stop Cryin’, Willie Dixon’s Workin’ On Me Baby and especially, the horn-saturated I Give Up. That one could enliven a funeral! Bad Blood is firmly entrenched down New Orleans way, and guitarist/co-writer Turmes plus the ever-present Richard Bell on keyboards lay down a funky delicious groove. Party time!

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Stealing Sugar is flush with seductive defiance, while Delbert McClinton’s You Were Never Mine smokes thanks to Janiva’s sultry delivery. Another soulful offering is I Want You To Have Everything, a nostalgic throwback to such Motown and Soul ladies like Mary Wells, Brenda Holloway, and Baby Washington. The streets of Detroit fade into the Mississippi backroads on Don’t Let Your Memories.

"In its entirety, this is a strongly convincing odyssey of 20th century Blues, and should further enhance the reputation of this most talented Blues and Soul lady."

-Gary Tate
Jazz Review.com
June 2006

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"2006 Blues Music Award nominee for Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year Janiva Magness is described by Delbert McClinton as ".... sings with a rare conviction. She will not be denied." What is confirmed by listening to Do I Move You? is that Janiva Magness is a supremely confident blues vocalist. The funky blues of I'm Just A Prisoner (Of Your Good Lovin') showcases her smokey voice and is a powerful opener. Her tight band gives an excellent backdrop to her superb blues/rock vocal. Willie Dixon's Workin' On Me Baby is given a shuffling blues treatment and shows that Janiva can be a real diva if she turns her hand to it. You Were Never Mine (co-written by the aforementioned Mr. McClinton) has Janiva producing another facet to her singing. This time she is slow and soulful and the layers of her voice are nothing less than spectacular. Bassist Jeff Turmes contributes three songs to the album, the first being I Can't Stop Cryin'. This is the real deal and could easily be mistaken for an authentic song from the blues heyday. It's Turmes again, this time on Don't Let Your Memories but unfortunately, this acoustic blues is a bit tame.

"Janiva and the band are back on form with classic R&B in the form of
I Want You To Have Everything. This is sung with panache and cements her place as one of the best North American contemporary blues singers around. The title track (written by Nina Simone) is a slow, electric blues with Hammond organ from Richard Bell giving the basis of the sound as it does on many others. The very sultry Magness asks the questions and you feel that you better know the answers. Bad Blood is the last of Jeff Turmes' songs and is probably the best of the trio. The stuttering guitar and gritty soul will make it a favourite for some time to come. There's some big band blues on I Give Up. This is a real swinger and confirms that Janiva can turn in a high standard on more than one blues sub-genre. Stealin' Sugar is old style and almost vaudeville. There's even a washboard (rub board) on this highly entertaining track. The album finishes in the same strong fashion in which it started with the very strong blues rock of A Man Size Job. It is no wonder that Janiva is held in the high regard that she is when she can produce work to the standard of Do I Move You?"

-David Blues
Net Rhythms
April 2006 

 
   

"It’s easy to answer the question posed by blues darling Janiva Magness with her latest project: Do I Move You? Hell, yeah! Janiva’s powerhouse vocals and ability to revel in being a self-described 'hussy' are smeared like honey all over the 11 tracks on her disc. Janiva self-produced the album with Colin Linden, and takes listeners on a roller coaster ride of emotions, backed by the excellent skills of guitarist Linden; keyboardist Richard Bell (Janis Joplin); drummer Stephen Hodges (Tom Waits); sax, bass and rhythm guitarist Jeff Turmes and guitarist Rick Holmstrom.

"It’s evident why the Blues Music Awards nominated the spunky blues woman this year for Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year. There are few current blues performers that have the ability to juggle earthy, 'hit you in guts' vocals, a tangible sensuality and vulnerability, all at the same time.

"As Michigan raised Janiva proclaims in her CD liner notes, '[I’m] not afraid of my age, my sexuality, my truth.' This philosophy is alive and well in her choice of material, which includes the old blues feel of ‘
Workin’ On Me Baby’, the honky tonk sadness of ‘You Were Never Mine’, the uplifting ‘I Want You to Have Everything’ and the show stopping vibe of the Nina Simone penned title track. Starting off sexy and slinky, and backed by velvety guitar, Janiva does extreme justice to the song as she takes listeners on a meandering and ultimately robust experience.

"While there is sadness, regret and tales of lost love (it ain’t the blues if it doesn’t bleed a bit) Janiva is too much of a hussy to dwell on the self-pitying and negative for very long. Instead, she ends
Move You with a trio of fun, female positive songs, ‘Bad Blood’ (that’s what makes her 'do the things I do'), the salacious ‘Stealin’ Sugar’ and ‘A Man Sized Job’, an ode to younger men who can get the job done. When Janiva sings, 'You gotta get outta the way and let the boy do a man sized job' there is no doubt in your mind that this is one hussy that can rock with the best of ‘em. All hail to hussies everywhere!

"See the luscious Janiva for real on July 30th [2006] when she plays at the Beaches International Festival in Toronto."

-Cyndi Ingle
701.com
May, 2006 

 
   

"Do I Move You? - the obvious answer to the question is, yes, you do. This is a wonderful contemporary blues record by an artist who is at the top of her game. Backed by an outstanding group of musicians whose inspired playing contributes to the strength of this album, Janiva has produced what is her finest record to date. In her liner notes she dedicates this record to hussies everywhere - strong women true to themselves - their sexuality and their right to live according to their truth. Janiva has always been a hussy and her truth mandates that she sing the blues. We’re lucky she does!"

-Kyle Deibler
Blues Bytes Pick Hit
March/April, 2006 

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"Janiva Magness' robust, crackling voice never falters or wavers during any of the 11 songs comprising Do I Move You?. The music ranges from prototype blues numbers like "I Can't Stop Cryin'" and "Don't Let Your Memories" to hard-edged testimonials such as "I Give Up" and "You Were Never Mine," or more upbeat, soul-oriented fare such as "Workin' On Me Baby" and "Stealin' Sugar." Magness also co-produced the date, and the arrangements blend swaying horn charts, prominent organ and keyboard interludes, and fine guitar support from Rick Holmstrom and/or Jeff Turmes, who also chips in on bass, baritone and tenor saxophones. Sometimes defiant, and on other occasions alluring and decisive, Magness' songs are both inviting and overpowering."

-Ron Wynn
Nashville City Paper
March 7, 2006 

 
   

"Do I Move You? is the question asked by Janiva Magness on her new CD. The answer is bound to be, "You sure do, Janiva!" Right from the first notes of "I'm Just A Prisoner," Ms. Magness's powerful vocal cords tie you up in a funky concoction of blues, R & B and soul. She moves easily into the older Willie Dixon blues of "Workin' On Me Baby" (done here as an electric shuffle). Janiva co-produced with the brilliant Colin Linden (who plays guitar throughout) and they achieve a sonic masterpiece. Rick Bell is apparent on many tracks, adding piano and organ. Bell is the equal to the great Garth Hudson when it comes to adding "honey" to already tasty tunes. Janiva turns in a Joplinesque take on Delbert McLinton's "You Were Never Mine," and pays tribute to acoustic blues with "Don't Let Your Memories." She belts, she moans, she sings sultry and low, whatever the song requires. Do I Move You? You bet! Oh, nice cover photo too!"

-David Kidney
Green Man Review
February, 2006 

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