Jenni Muldaur "Dearest Darlin'" Reviewed in Living Blues

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Dearest Darling (Dandelion Music 2009)

Dearest Darling (Dandelion Music 2009)

“Although few notices when Warner Bros. issued Geoff and Maria Muldaur’s daughter Jenni’s debut album in 1992, her long-overdue follow-up is sure to turn heads with its audacious program of undeservingly [sic] obscure R&B and pop tunes, her throaty, nicely nuanced vocal deliver, and the world-class cast of players who surround her. Of the dozen songs, only James Brown’s Lost Someone is widely known. The remainder include Bo Diddley’s Dearest Darlin’; NRBQ’s Blame It on the World; a ring-shout taken from an Alan Lomax field recordings; a Muldaur original; and numbers associated with Big Maybelle, Lee Dorsey, Barbara Acklin, Meredith Howard, Evie Sands and Charlie Rich. Whoever picked the material, be it Muldaur, producers Steve Rosenthal and Don Fleming, or a combination of the three, has big ears.

Muldaur, long in demand as a backup singer, with extensive credits that include Eric Clapton, Meat Loaf, Todd Rundgren, Lou Reed and David Byrne, sings in a scratchy alto tones that bring to mind those of Cold Blood lead vocalist Lydia Pense, Janis Joplin’s main competition on the San Francisco rock scene in the late 1960s, though she has more control and taste than either of those women. Each tune is imaginatively arranged and expertly played by a rhythm section comprising onetime Gil Scott-Heron keyboardist Brian Jackson, drummer James Wormworth (who is also the drummer for NBC’s Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien), acoustic and electric bassist Brad Jones and the late guitarist Sean Costello. Other contributors include saxophonists Steve Elson and Lenny Pickett and vocalist Joseph Arthur who duets with Muldaur on the title track.”

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