David Jacobs-Strain and Janiva Magness CDs at Borders!

Fred Litwin fred@northernblues.com
Thu Sep 30 15:06:23 EDT 2004

NorthernBlues Music is proud to announce that the new David Jacobs-Strain
CD, Ocean or a Teardrop, and the new Janiva Magness CD, Bury Him at the
Crossroads, will both be going up on the listening posts at Borders
on October 12th.

Both CDs are getting rave reviews:

Ocean or a Teardrop, David Jacobs-Strain

"The college kid that's been blowing everyone away with his guitar chops
opts not to make a guitar cord for his fourth outing.  Going instead for a
balls out good time, this is a germinating rocker that is getting ready to
really blow the roof off after graduation.  Working hard to have it all,
this young singer/songwriter draws help from tested rock vets that recognize
all that's going on here.  This blossoming all around pro is the face of
    Midwest Record Recap, August 21, 2004

"The young Mr. Jacobs-Strain has come a long way since his first CD. With
the help of Otis Taylor's former producer, Kenny Passarelli, he has turned
in a masterful effort combining strong vocals, strong songs and the unusual
instrumentation Passarelli used to such good effect on Taylor's earlier
albums. His guitar prowess of course is not in doubt but these arrangements
show a rapidly maturing artist. Fred McDowell's "Kokomo Blues" opens the
program with a delightful arrangement for full band, with Jacobs-Strain on
resonator. The title song is a Jacobs-Strain original that would impress
anyway but in an arrangement that includes fiddle, kora, djembe and drum
loops proves that there's more to life than two guitars, bass & drums.
Sleepy John Estes' "Girl I Love" is just Jacobs-Strain on guitar & vocals
but Blind Willie Johnson's "Soul of a Man" gets a new arrangement with
chains, trash can vocals and shakers that keep this now often-covered song
interesting. The original "Shoot the Devil" shows that he can write a song
that does not sound out of place in this list. Keep an eye on Mr.
     John Valenteyn, MapleBlues, September, 2004

All Grown Up, (09/01/04)
"Intimating that young David Jacobs-Strain was like a new cast iron frying
pan that just needed seasoning two years ago, I can safely say he enjoys a
shiny non-stick surface today. Gone is total reliance on his incredible
guitar playing and kid voice with forced manliness, to be replaced by a
sophisticated baritone and stellar musicians augmented again by Kenny
Passarelli's production. Not all, but several tunes are very "Otis Taylor
sounding" and that ain't no bad thing. This is no coincidence as Kenny
was/is Otis's bassist and Taylor himself was an early mentor of a young
David. This CD is, however, more accessible than most of Otis' stuff. 

The musicians include Joe Filisko (player and harmonica modification guru),
Passarelli (bass, B3, and Fender Rhodes), and Joe Craven (formerly of the
eclectic-to-extremes string-driven Psychograss on fiddle, mandolin, and oud
{a Middle-Eastern lute}, plus Austin guitarist Danny Click. 

A large portion of the music is controlled frenzy with incredible
musicianship and visionary mixing/engineering. A bodacious tip of the
bandana goes to co-producer Tim Stroh for an exceptional mix and sound
engineers Andrew Click and Michael Chavez for the delicate balance of a
dense yet not-too-hectic soundscape. 

Intensely passionate subject matter and vocals to match try to stamp their
will on this recording, but the playing is the over-powering signature of
this disc. Three of the ten songs are self-penned with resounding versions
of Sleepy John Estes' "Girl I Love," Fred McDowell's "Kokomo Blues," and
Blind Willie Johnson's "Soul Of A Man." 

Thank you David for living up to the potential we knew you had. We've had
the pleasure of watching you grow musically and I can't wait to see you with
a band ... LIVE!" 
     Bearrdo, BluesWax E-zine

"Already established as a major young figure in the blues, David
Jacobs-Strain widens his horizons a bit with this album. Blues remains at
the roots, but on some case, such as the adventurous “Earthquake" or the
lyrical “Illinois," it's a little obscured by the branches overhead. That's
not to say he's entirely turning his back on what begat him: there are
splendid versions of songs by Blind Willie Johnson and Fred McDowell here,
while his version of Sleepy John Estes's “Girl I Love" is a delight of slide
guitar played with a maturity far beyond his young ears. But Jacobs-Strain
has rapidly developed as a writer, as something like “Take My Chances"
shows. Featuring oud and kora along with more standard Western instruments,
it's a tour de force for his gravelly voice, while “Yelapa Breakdown"
transports him somewhat into early country territory, with some superb
fiddle work from Joe Craven (who's also outstanding on the title track). But
perhaps the hardest-hitting cuts here feature a very small band — both
“Shoot The Devil" and “Sleepless Dream" benefit from a glorious tension in
the arrangements that propels the music along. Getting better on guitar
every day, never flashy or arrogant about his talent, Jacobs-Strain is set
to become a major figure in music, not just blues."
     Chris Nickson, All Music Guide
Bury Him at the Crossroads, Janiva Magness
Taking Her Place, (09/22/04)
"My enduring image of Janiva Magness will include her custom rubboard. It is
an anatomically correct silver body plate with copper breast cones. Madonna
would die for this. Impolite? Yes, just like Magness' music. But all such
distractions aside, Magness is in possession of a supreme set of pipes and
is arguably one of the more talented female vocalists to emerge of late, an
opinion shared by more than a few. She has garnered praise from high places
-- there's a recent Handy nomination for Best Contemporary Female Blues
Artist, and a BB King Award for Musical Excellence. For those of you not
familiar with her work, the short history goes like this: influenced by her
father (he sung to her at night, she says), Magness grew up in Detroit,
listened to everything from Elmore James to Koko Taylor. She has since
re-located to Los Angeles and is perhaps best known to West Coast audiences.
Magness dropped into my own radar about four years ago when I caught her gig
at the San Diego Volkswagen Blues Festival. She ruled the day -- albeit from
her place on one of the event's side stages. 
This year, Magness released Bury Him At The Crossroads, a CD bearing the
patina from an accumulation of roadwork, street fair gigs, and endless club
dates. It may indeed represent the high water mark of her young career.
Recorded at Burbank's Mad Dog Studios, the sessions include performances by
Colin Linden and Jeff Turmes (both of whom contributed originals to the
album), pianist/organist Richard Bell, and the drummer Stephen Hodges. 

The disc kicks off with "A Woman Knows." Magness' voice is almost seasoned
beyond its years when she sings "Like a great big eye that follows you
everywhere you go/Just like a lie detector works/That's how a woman knows."
The guitar-and-drum combo is anchored to the earth by Turmes' baritone sax.
In the spots where Magness' ambitious read loses traction, the baritone sax,
well-oiled and lugubrious, fills in the cracks and plays out untapped

"The Whale Has Swallowed Me," a J.B. Lenoir chestnut follows. The vocal
production has been dirtied up to lend guts to the track. Great push in the
right places, but the song isn't hers and the performance lacks empathy. But
on "Everything Gonna Be Alright," Magness has both feet on the floor and
both hands on the mic stand. This is her track, a certifiably hot take:
"Baby please kiss me one time/I wanna know, got to know, wanna know that you
are mine." Magness brings the song to life with vivid intonations. 

Sam Cooke's "Lost and Lookin'" is the obligatory slow burner. Magness' voice
equals the material, fills out all available space, and makes its point.
Enough said. "Wasn't That Enough" is a track that I believe I've heard
performed live. Magness is in the pocket again, treading familiar waters in
themes of scorn and rejection. The fine production is flat as Delta farmland
with little more than acoustic guitar backing Magness' superior vocals. "The
Soul of a Man" borrows a Gospel meter. For lack of a better analogy, I would
call Magness' performance on "Soul" both spooky and otherworldly. The read
is wondrous, the voice limber. 

But the Blues are such well-trod territory and in the case of the
Turmes-penned "Bury Him at the Crossroads," the song sounds a bit like a
case of the packhorse running home to the feedlot. Great singing, but
halfway through I find myself up and doing household chores, out on the
porch looking for the newspaper. 

We're back in business with "One More Heartache," Creedence-spare and
supported by some sly B3 work from Richard Bell. "I'm Leaving You" is
folksy, homespun wisdom: "Some things are more important than bein'
right/Some times it might be wiser to lose a fight." I think for a long,
hard minute about playing this over the phone to my ex, but then decide
against it. She is, after all, my ex. "Less and Less of You" is flat, coming
off as filler. The housework calls. But then another save - Delbert
McClinton's "Ain't Lost Nothin'" ripples with tension created by the band.
It's a burner that feeds into the campy album closer "Eat the Lunch You
Brought," another Turmes original: "It's too damned bad the way my life
turned out this mornin'," sings a loose-jointed Magness. "It's too damned
bad it hasn't changed by this afternoon." The song fits as if it was written
for her. Maybe it was."
    Dave Good, BluesWax E-Zine

"In the red-hot blues-mama sweepstakes, Janiva Magness certainly sounds like
a leading contender.  The Southern California-based blues singer has a hell
of a voice, which occasionally falls into cliched blues-mama growling, but
not enough to make you want to toss this in favor of an Etta James classic.
Still, what makes this set really work is its sonic-bar-room ambience, which
kicks off with a dirty Los Lobos vice on "A Woman Knows," propelled by Jeff
Turmes' stinky baritone-saz honks, and then careens through a dozen more
swell cuts.  A special shout-out must go to guitarist Colin Linden, who
co-produced this with Magness.  Linden lays down some tasty fret-board
testifying here, and his guitar work serves as the perfect counterpoint to
Magness' voice.  And anyone who covers Oliver Sain deserves a thumbs up,
    Jackson Griffith, Sacramento News & Review, August 26, 2004

August 21, 2004

"If you like those lusty ladies that know how to belt out the blues, this
white girl has a black girl's soul and can deliver with the best of them.
Given a proper setting from producer Colin Linden, Magness sets the
proceedings on fire right out of the box, and never lets up.  She's already
been a Handy nominee; next time out, with this as the underpinning, she'll
be a Handy Award winner.  The genre has a new high water mark."
     Midwest Record Recap, August 21, 2004

Fred Litwin, President
NorthernBlues Music, Inc.
225 Sterling Road, Unit 19
Toronto, Ontario M6R 2B2
613-261-9060 (my cell phone #)

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