Not being much of a follower of American reality television (or for that matter British reality television) I didn’t have any idea who Beverley McClellan was before I saw her name pop up in a press release for Steve Vai’s The Story Of Light, where she sings on the track John the Revelator.
When it was announced that Beverley would be supporting Vai on his upcoming UK tour I thought I’d better go familiarise myself with her music.
Well, the first thing you’ll find out about Beverley if you go do a spot of Googling is her sexuality.
I mean, seriously… who cares ???
Although Beverley has broken through to wide-scale recognition recently she has certainly paid her dues, unlike many of the other dross that is churned out by the reality TV machine. Prior to her success on The Voice she already had 5 independent albums under her belt.
Not exactly an overnight success then 🙂
Although Beverley is a multi-instrumentalist (and lesbian, apparently that’s important), it’s her voice that grabs you immediately. Over the 14 tracks that make up this album she demonstrates a stunning versatility. In places it’s “proper” old school southern blues, in other it’s ballsy rock’n’roll, a-la Janis Joplin, all served up with passion and soul. The songwriting too evokes an age of smoke filled clubs, and a time when songs were as much about what was being said than how they were packaged and delivered.
But that’s the thing you see, the one thing about this album that doesn’t seem to quite fit is the big budget production job. Oh, it all sounds perfect, crystal clear and it will undoubtedly sell by the truckload but (for what it’s worth) (nothing) there is just a touch too much polish, and it robs it of a raw edge that you just kind of know Beverley’s music has.
But then again I’m not exactly in the US mass-market target demographic 😉
Some artists try to recapture the spirit of bygone eras by slavishly copying elements of those eras, and as a result make the reviewers job easy “such and such sounds like Bonnie Raitt, or like Janis Joplin, or Etta James”, you get the idea. The thing is with Beverley you can’t do that. Although there are numerous comparisons that can be made, none of them run very deep. At the end of the day, Beverley McClellan sounds exactly like…. Beverley McClellan.
Can’t wait to see her live on the Steve Vai tour……