Editor's Note: This review is part of a series of albums and artists nominated for the 2007 Blues Music Awards (full list of nominees). This album is nominated for Album of the Year, Contemporary Blues Album of the Year, and Magness is nominated for Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year.
The name of Janiva Magness' Album of the Year nominee is Do I Move You?. The answer? No. Not really.
Janiva Magness has a terrific voice that burns with passion. It's a voice that rarely falters, unfortunately the same cannot be said of the material and the arrangements. In some instances, the material is just flat bad and no amount of vocal prowess or emotional force can save it. In other instances, the material is solid but the arrangement pulls the song back. It's a shame.
The album opens with “I'm Just a Prisoner (Of Your Good Love).” The title of the song rings the cliche-alert bells and sadly, so does the song itself. Magness' voice is too serious to toss this number off as fun, the words too campy to take seriously. The music is blues-lite which prevents her from cutting loose on the vocal and I just want to strangle whoever arranged these backing vocals. It's possible this song could be better in concert, elevated by the energy that comes from the live setting.
Unfortunately, this is a trend that repeats itself throughout the album. “A Man Size Job” once again sets off the cliché alarm while “Bad Blood” is a bad song. The family tree rundown in the lyrics, “my daddy was a good man/my uncle was a rolling stone,” would make a country diva cringe. Give Magness credit, though, she doesn't phone in her performances even when saddled with material beneath her talent.