This is Janiva Magness' third album for Alligator and each has been a giant step forward. On Stronger For It, she displays her first songwriting talents since her 1997 disc, It Takes One To Know One, on Fat Head Records. Here she co-wrote three of the strongest songs on the disc with producer David Darling, and they open the disc and set a tone for the rest of the songs. As usual for the majority of the songs she has gone to some exceptional covers by outstanding songwriters - proven songwriters such as Tom Waits, Buddy and Julie Miller Shelby Lynne and Ray Wylie Hubbard, among others. She seems to have this very distinct ability to pick songs that suit her well in every way. There is a harder edge to this disc. Let's modify that, rather than harder, there is a more blunt laying out of feelings that we all have at times when we have suffered in some way at the hands of another. The no punches pulled honesty of expressing feelings each of us has probably felt at the moment of disappointment. There are lines such as "I never thought I'd wanna hurt a man so bad". It is a, exceedingly rare person that hasn't had that instant thought flash through their mind at the moment of great pain caused by the actions of another that they loved. Her thoughts about the album are that you can suffer all kinds of things but the idea is to use those trials to become a better/stronger person.
This disc shows her voice in all its earthy and raw power. She is at turns gritty and soft, tough and forgiving, and no matter what she is always dynamic and pushing her voice to get more out of it. Though she has finally been getting her share of awards in the Blues world, Contemporary Blues Female Artist of The Year, two times, and B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year among others, she has not rested on those laurels as this disc and her live performances show. For the record her live shows are the stuff legends are made of, they are long and she hold nothing back. Her band is top notch and they are basically the group heard on this disc. They are tight, strong, and with her all the way. They are all exceptional musicians, they are all more than able to hold their own anywhere, they are here to support her and they do so with a grace and joy that is easily seen. And a big hand to David Darling for the job he does as producer.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
Website design by David N. Pyles