02_brown_sugarBrown Sugar
Shakura S’Aida
Ruf Records Ruf 1155

What a sweet blast. Shakura S’Aida has earned praise in Canada as a singer, songwriter and actress of substance and now she’s got a firm grip on the solo career ladder with a scintillating new CD to follow her excellent album “Blueprint”.

Released in North America in April and before that in Europe, “Brown Sugar” lets S’Aida, whose family arrived in Toronto in the 1970s, use the vast experience gained from working with luminaries such as Jimmy Smith, Ruth Brown and Patti LaBelle.

It’s a startlingly good album that bears repeated listening, diction so clear that the cool sounds one might expect don’t happen. There’s emotional connection and passion aplenty here on a dozen tracks, 11 of which employed power guitarist Donna Grantis to work with S’Aida in lyrics and music. The band is tight, featuring organist Lance Anderson, bass Dave Smith, drummer Steve Potts and Rick Steff on keyboards.

Mr. Right is a superb opener best at big volume and offers a glimpse of the vocalist’s attractive high warble. Walk Out That Door is a fetching shuffle while Gonna Tell My Baby is a slow burner with fierce wails. Two successive tunes, the grittily intimate Did It Break Your Heart and the swinging Missing The Good And The Bad would have been great fodder for Janis Joplin and they’re followed by a delightful trio of songs that break the raunch barrier - Sweet Spot, the bitter title track and Anti Love Song.

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