Reneé Austin – Sweet talk
With a nearly five-octave range and stunning vocal dynamism, Reneé Austin is poised to lead a new generation of innovative singer-songwriters. On SWEET TALK, Austin's voice rises to astounding, operatic heights, offering razor-sharp renditions of American roots music, paying homage to everything from Motown, Stax-era R&B, Gospel, Country to Texas blues and classic Rock and Roll. Grammy winner Delbert McClinton guests on the chill-up-the-spine duet "Pretend We Never Met," and commented "Reneé Austin gives me a lot of room to breathe when I sing with her; if you can't get her, you better get Tina Turner!"
1. Not Alone - 4:03 2. Pretend We Never Met - 3:52 3. When Something Is Wrong - 3:29 4. Pour the Sugar Slowly - 3:51 5. Bottom of a Heart - 4:00 6. Fool Moon - 4:50 7. Bury the Hatchet - 4:18 8. Unraveling - 4:40 9. Bitter Water - 3:56 10. Ain't Nobody - 3:58 11. Black Pearl - 4:01
Renee Austin (vocals) , Delbert McClinton (vocals) , Kevin Bowe (guitar) , Andy Dee (slide guitar) , Joe T. Cook (harmonica) , Dave Jensen (trumpet) , Bruce McCabe (piano, electric piano, clavinet) , Jeff Victor (electric piano, organ) , Dik Shopteau (bass) , Billy Thommes (drums, percussion) , Cynthia Johnson (background vocals) , Daryl Burgess (background vocals)
1. AllMusic - Hal Horowitz
This Texas by way of Minneapolis blues/jazz/soul belter's first nationally available disc made a substantial impression out of the box in late 2003. It received major press attention and was nominated for a W.C. Handy Best New Artist Debut award. Even a cursory listen shows why. Austin's tough, husky growl can be as gutsy as Tina Turner or as tender as Maria Muldaur. Although her stunning duet with Delbert McClinton on "Pretend We Never Met" is one of the album's obvious highlights, it's by no means the only striking track. The soulful "When Something Is Wrong" recalls Ann Peebles' Hi label work and Austin gets downright nasty on the grinding sexy funk-rock of "Pour the Sugar Slowly." Incorrectly pigeonholed strictly as a blues artist (probably due to her Blind Pig label affiliation), Austin is closer to a classic R&B vocalist in the tradition of Etta James and Turner. Also impressive is that the multi-talented musician -- who plays guitar and piano live -- was responsible for penning all but four of these tunes, an unusual accomplishment for a female singer. Her writing is sharp and diverse as she shifts gears from the gospel fervor of "Bottom of a Heart" to "Fool Moon"'s bluesy jazz lounge mood, just two songs that display her impressive range. Far from scattershot, Austin's talented band and the disc's smart pacing display her strengths without sounding as if she's giddily jumping genres. Like McClinton -- an obvious role model -- her presence is so powerful that she's comfortable in a variety of grooves and, at least on the basis of this album, succeeds at all of them.
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