menu 3
Album
Reviews >>
menu GuestBook   
  The established webzine (previously www.maelstrom.nu) - now at a new domain!
  Search   

 
8.2/10 Avi
 

BARNES, MAHALIA & THE SOUL MATES ft BONAMASSA, JOE - OOH YEA The Betty Davis Songbook - CD - Mascot Label Group - 2014

Australian singer Mahalia Barnes pays tribute to the funk/soul music of Betty Davis in this album, backed by professional players including none other than Joe Bonamassa (Black Country Communion) on guitar; and we have to say that the fact this was released has a value in itself, as it has brought the brave, colorful music of Betty Davis, who seems to have been forgotten, to a new audience, including ourselves and we are grateful for that.

Now, Barnes might actually be a better singer than Davis. She is a natural singer, and R&B seems to flow through her entire body. She sings with passion and pathos, and is extremely technically proficient. Sometimes, however, this album sounds too polished.

Barnes' performance is effective throughout. On "Game Is My Middle Name" she plays around with her backing vocalists, with a definite groove. On "He Was A Big Freak," which is painted vividly with excellent guitar licks, Barnes soars higher and higher in a way that reflects the song's smutty, sexual scenes, recalling the original shouty vocals while remaining more tuneful.

However, as a performer we feel that Barnes needs to connect better with the rest of the music, if not to lead it. On many of the songs, the vocalist-backing synergy is lacking. An actual interaction between the singers on the aforementioned "Game Is My Middle Name," for instance, could have raised it to an even higher level. Another example of this is the version of "In The Meantime" - one of the lower keyed numbers here, which in its original form featured some whispered vocals - is performed with a Van Morrison vibe and inspiring organ-guitar setting, culminates with what we consider exaggerated vocals; we would have preferred it to end in a calmer fashion.

Also, the music tends to be overly busy, and this does not let the funk breathe as it did on the original versions. We encourage the approach taken on "Your Mama Wants You Back": a minimal, bass and drums introduction finds the guitar sneaking in with style; and the considerably minimal backing is maintained throughout, with keyboards and guitar curiousities thrown for good measure; the result is totally sexy yet somewhat implicit and suggestive of the heat.

Maybe funk does not need to be subtle. Maybe it should be as showy and as loud as Barnes is. But we would like her to take into account that sometimes sexy means not only sweaty but also dirty, and perhaps even risky. We deeply acknowledge her risk of making an entire album out of Davis songs, but still we wish to hear her risking even more with regards to her actual performance on her next release, which we will be looking forward to. (8.2/10)

 

All related articles (interviews, live, from the vault)
 

 

ISSUE 77
ALBUM REVIEWS

(A-C)  (D-G)  (G-J)  (K-M)  (M-O)  (O-R)  (S-T)  (T-Z)

ABBASI, REZ ACO...
Intents and Pur

ACCORDO DEI CON...
Adc

BARNES, MAHALIA...
OOH YEA The Bet

BODY POLITIC, T...
Egressor

BRUCE, JACK
The 50th Birthd

BULLHOUNDS, THE
Protector

CHROME HOOF
Chrome Black Go

CREINIUM
Project Utopia

All Rights Reserved 2004.