Shemekia Copeland (from the album Outskirts of Love on Alligator Records) - Shemekia Copeland has a knack for using the stage as a pulpit as she demands attention like a preacher standing in front of those already converted. Her methods shake foundations and rattle the righteous into action.
Outskirts of Love, her most recent release, testifies to the ability of Shemekia Copeland to reach right down inside to touch spirits needing a little more saving than platitudes and promises can offer. Her motives are not religious in the traditional sense as Shemekia soul shouts salvation, and wrings a hallelujah from the gospel fuel she pours into Country, Rhythm, and Blues. Outskirts of Love presents Shemekia Copeland wearing audio coats of many colors, guiding each tune with a sound force that rises up from deep inside, pushing limits and coloring outside of the lines as she buries the needle in the red zone.
Shemekia Copeland varies music on Outskirts of Love, presenting her songs with touches of Country for “Drivin’ Out of Nashville” and hard R&B for Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee’s “The Battle is Over (But the War Goes On)”. She smoothly moves between dance steps that spin a Soul Cha Cha Cha into Jesse Winchester’s “Isn’t That So” and funky beats that shine down on “Crossbone Beach”. Shemekia Copeland honors dad Johnny Copeland with Afrobeats on “Devil’s Hand” and heads for Southern Soul to trail the woman sitting at the bus stop in the title track. The connection for the tunes is the tales behind the music as Shemekia Copeland makes the theme of Outskirts of Love stories that populate its songs. Folk Blues offers a foundation for the homeless voices welcoming in to “Cardboard Box”, Soul steps slowly into the bar as a mental jukebox puts on Solomon Burke’s “I Feel a Sin Coming On”, a rumbling Blues follows ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago”, and slips down honey-flowing groove for Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Long as I Can See the Light”.
Outskirts of Love, produced by Oliver Wood (The Wood Brothers), is a return to Alligator Records for Shemekia Copeland. She gets help from musical friends on the recording, including Billy Gibbons, Robert Randolph, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Will Kimbrough and Pete Finney.