Home Read Albums Of The Week: Shemekia Copeland | Done Come Too Far

Albums Of The Week: Shemekia Copeland | Done Come Too Far

Fusing hard-hitting blues with harder-hitting lyrics ripped from the headlines, the powerhouse singer-songwriter delivers the latest in a series of relevant releases.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Award-winning blues, soul and Americana singer Shemekia Copeland possesses one of the most instantly recognizable and deeply soulful roots music voices of our time. She is beloved worldwide for the fearlessness, honesty and humor of her revelatory music, as well as for delivering each song she performs with unmatched passion.

On her new Alligator album Done Come Too Far, Copeland continues the story she began telling on 2018’s groundbreaking America’s Child and 2020’s Grammy-nominated Uncivil War, reflecting her vision of America’s past, present and future. On Done Come Too Far, she delivers her hard-hitting musical truths through her eyes, those of a young American Black woman, a mother, and a wife. But she likes to have a good time too, and her music reflects that, at times putting her sly sense of humor front and center. “This album was made by all sides of me — happy, sad, silly, irate — they’re all a part who I am and who we all are. I’m not political. I’m just talking about what’s happening in this country.”

And she doesn’t hold back. Recorded in Nashville and produced by multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Will Kimbrough (who also produced her previous two albums), Done Come Too Far is Copeland at her charismatic, passionate, confrontational best. With singular purpose and simmering power, Copeland unleashes the searing, history-fueled tracks Too Far To Be Gone (featuring Sonny Landreth on scorching slide guitar) and Done Come Too Far (with Grammy winner Cedric Burnside duetting and playing Mississippi Hill Country blues guitar). “If you think we’re stopping,” she sings in both songs, “you got it wrong.” On The Talk, Copeland shares the brutally honest, harrowing reality of a Black mother talking with her son about surviving an encounter with the police (with the great Charles Hodges of the famed Hi Rhythm Section on pulsating B-3 organ). On the all-too-timely Pink Turns To Red, Copeland decries America’s gun violence epidemic.

Done Come Too Far’s better times and brighter days come on just as strong in the fun and swampy Fried Catfish And Bibles and the boot-kickin’, semi-autobiographical Fell In Love With A Honky. Spirits get lifted in Copeland’s celebratory interpretation of Ray Wylie Hubbard’s Barefoot In Heaven, before closing the set with the heartfelt love song Nobody But You, written by her renowned father, the late Texas bluesman Johnny Clyde Copeland.

Copeland is used to the spotlight. Born and raised in Harlem, New York in 1979, she first stepped on stage with her famous father at New York’s Cotton Club when she was eight. As soon as Copeland released her Alligator debut Turn The Heat Up in 1998 at age 18, she instantly became a blues and R&B force to be reckoned with, thanks to her larger-than-life personality, dynamic, authoritative voice and true star power. With each subsequent release, Copeland’s music continued to evolve. From her debut through 2005’s The Soul Truth, Shemekia earned eight Blues Music Awards and a host of Living Blues Awards. 2000’s Wicked received the first of her four Grammy nominations. After two successful releases on Telarc (including 2012’s Grammy-nominated 33 1/3), Copeland returned to Alligator in 2015 with the Grammy-nominated, Blues Music Award-winning Outskirts Of Love, melding blues with more rootsy, Americana sounds.

With 2018’s America’s Child, Copeland, now the mother of a baby boy, sang about the blessings and curses of the world around her. It won both the Blues Music Award and the Living Blues Award for Album Of The Year. In addition to earning her fourth Grammy nomination, her groundbreaking 2020 release Uncivil War was named the 2020 Blues Album Of The Year by multiple publications. The album, like its predecessor, looked at the hardships and happiness people encounter, seeking common ground, demanding change and still finding ways to have a good time.

Copeland has sung with Bonnie Raitt, Keith Richards, Carlos Santana, Dr. John, James Cotton and many others, and has shared a bill with The Rolling Stones. She entertained U.S. troops in Iraq and Kuwait in 2008, a trip that she says “opened my eyes to the larger world around me and my place in it.” In 2012, she performed with B.B. King, Mick Jagger, Buddy Guy, Trombone Shorty, Gary Clark, Jr. and others at the White House.

As for the continuing evolution of her music, Copeland is very clear. “Once my son was born,” she says, “I became even more committed to making the world a better place. On America’s Child, Uncivil War and now Done Come Too Far, I’ve been trying to put the ‘United’ back into United States. Friends, family and home, these things we all value.”

With Done Come Too Far, Copeland hits harder than ever with musically and lyrically adventurous songs and jaw-dropping performances that are at once timely and timeless.”

 

Photo by Victoria Smith.