Shemekia Copeland The Soul Truth

This record should lift right off the page with a voice as powerful as Shemekia’s, the still smoking gun-for-hire of Memphis guitar god Steve Cropper as producer, and a who’s who of session professionals like the Muscle Shoals horns, Felix Cavaliere, Chuck Leavell and Dobey Gray — but it doesn’t. Considering that Shemekia has never been as blue as her daddy was, this soul route is a legitimate fresh direction, but hers is a voice that demands songs capable of withstanding her gale force delivery. Unless she can wrap her pipes around something equally meaningful, the power with which she assaults them merely underlines substandard material. There are many solid moments on Soul Truth: "Poor, Poor Excuse” showcases Copeland’s ability to fuel a slow burn while "Better Not Touch” hurtles down the tracks unleashing real spark; "Uptown Line” sizzles, thanks to the mood created by Bob Britt’s dark slide guitar and her duet with Dobey Gray shines brightly but is less than a soulful high point. One of the disc’s best tracks is Eddie Hinton’s "Something Heavy” and Copeland and Cropper are all that’s required for maximum impact, the material providing the much-needed assist. Shemekia has more in her than this polished project delivers and something’s missing from the recipe. As intriguing as the new ingredients are, the "soul truth” proves less than the whole truth. (Alligator)