Thornetta Davis – Honest Woman (Sweet Mama Music)
Wow – what a talent Thornetta Davis is! A real, live blues diva. Thornetta’s sister introduces her at the start of the album – “She sings with such sweet passion…she sings out notes that make you wanna jump and shout…she sure can sing the blues!” It’s all true – passion, fun, sass, soul – it’s all here in Thornetta Davis’s performance in an album that will draw you in, move you, and get your feet dancing.
There are twelve songs, all originals, written or co-written by Davis and showcasing her considerable song writing skills, all well arranged and produced. The band is terrific and includes some tasteful – never too prominent – horn and harmonica playing and some wonderful gospel backing vocals. Special mention must be made of the guitar work throughout – it’s very tasty indeed. The background work by Brian White on the spoken first track gives a hint of things to come and from the opening lick of I Gotta Sang the Blues, you know there are great things to come.
We get Davis’ approach to the blues in this first song – “bad times, they come and they go…when living the blues gets too rough, I got to sing the blues.” Here she reflects the way the blues have been used time and time again – enabling the singer to sing their way out of the hard times. “I refuse to stay in the past,” she sings, defying life’s troubles and difficulties to try and overcome her. We get the same sentiment, with a whole lot of fun in Get Up and Dance Away Your Blues.
There’s an upbeat, bold attitude right throughout the album – in That Don’t Appease Me, a put-down to a lying, cheating lover; in Am I Just A Shadow, where she asks defiantly, why “you choose to take it all out on me?”; and in I’d Rather Be Alone – “it’s too late baby, I don’t need you no more.”
There’s some inspirational gospel here too. Ms. Davis writes on her cover notes, “Thank you God for keeping me and walking with me through the journey.” She goes on to talk about the joy in her life that her faith has brought. That is reflected in Set Me Free, which begins with some wonderful gospel harmonies and then morphs into a funky, gospel driven song of inspiration, aided and abetted by Larry McCray’s soul-piercing guitar – “Please come down and set me free…I want to be a part of your greater plan…now I’m down on my knees.” And in the rocking, toe-tapping I Believe Everything Gonna Be Alright: “Joy’s gonna come in the morning light,” Thornetta sings, echoing Psalm 30 v5 (“Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning”). Then we get Brother Charlie who needs some food – “I reached in my pocket and gave him what I had.” These lyrics and the joyous, buoyant tone of the song had me thinking of Acts 20:35 – it is better to give than to receive. And then there’s the final song, Feels Like Religion, funky, soulful, again with those gorgeous gospel backing vocals, where “it’s getting clearer, ain’t no cloudiness in my mind…love has set me free, I got religion.”
But there’s a lot of good fun on this album too, on the sassy I Need a Whole Lotta Lovin’ To Satisfy Me, and Get Up and Dance Away Your Blues. And worthy of note is the title track, the quite beautiful Honest Woman, inspired by her husband James. Again that cool, gospel vibe, lovely backing vocals, all wrapped up in a musical arrangement that has you smiling and ready to hit the reply button at the end of the song.
This is a very fine album; a keeper, and a fine showcase for the vocal and song writing talents of Ms. Davis, not to mention the musical talent of her band.