• Sandrine Lee
  • Shemekia Copeland

From the time she arrived on the scene as a teenager in the mid-90s, it’s been clear that blues singer Shemekia Copeland—daughter of the Texas bluesman Johnny “Clyde” Copeland—possesses one of the genre’s greatest voices. Even as a kid her instrument seemed fully formed, although she didn’t always wield it with precision. She’s steadily improved her control over the last decade and a half, and she sounds as nuanced and focused as ever on her latest recording, 33 1/3 (Telarc). Copeland rarely raises the rafters, preferring to imbue her delivery with more subtle gradations of emotion through sharp phrasing, artlessly stretching vowels and uncorking a precise vibratro. She once again worked with producer and guitarist Oliver Wood (of the Wood Brothers), who provides a kind of mildly generic, polite blues-rock setting that gives Copeland’s voice the space and dynamics it demands but otherwise does little to grab your attention—with the exception of the sacred steel solos Roosevelt Collier (the Lee Boys) contributes on a few cuts, and a trademark solo from Buddy Guy on another.