REVIEW: Shemekia Copeland’s “America’s Child” is Rich Vocals, Empowering Songs, Heavyweight Talent


Shemekia Copeland’s new album America’s Child (Alligator Records) was produced by Will Kimbrough (Rodney Crowell, Kim Richey) who also plays guitar throughout the album, supporting Copeland’s renowned vocals.  The album features a slew of heavyweight talented guests, grounding the project in a display of present day empowerment.

Lead track “Ain’t Got Time For Hate” features special guests Al Perkins on pedal steel, J.D. Wilkes on harmonica toward the song’s culmination, and with Copeland’s rich vocals backed by Mary Gauthier, Emmylou Harris, Will Kimbrough, Gretchen Peters, John Prine, Katie Pruitt, Kristi Stassinopoulou and Tommy Womack.  “You better be smart, you better be strong… this whole life is an uphill climb.”  With a song this good, it could at least theoretically be a cause for “mic drop” and leaving on a high note. What more could possibly follow?  But the album continues to unfold its gifts.

“Americans” was cowritten by Mary Gauthier and John Hahn, and is neat to hear it with Copeland in the lead.

“One I Love” is a hard beat groovy number, written by Kevin Gordon, and it may be the centerpiece of the project, musically.   Kimbrough smokes it on guitar but Wilkes puts it over the top with resounding great gales of wind like John Popper on harmonica: “every morning I face the fire in the sky feeling lucky just to be alive.”   Then Copeland covers the Kinks’ “I’m Not Live Everybody Else,” with her vocal vicissitudes, displaying the ways she is definitely not like anybody else.  And neither is this album like any other.  Get your copy, here

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