Albumism: “An artist unafraid of challenging genres or social issues”

On America’s Child, singer Shemekia Copeland pivots ever so slightly but quite deliberately, from straight-ahead blues into more rootsy Americana. It’s a smart move, infusing her album with an intimacy that supports a lyrical thread that can best be described as “things are tough right now but hopefully they’ll get better.” (…) 

Copeland’s gentle shift from blues to Americana is significant for an African American artist. While there are people of color within the Americana scene, like Rhiannon Giddens, it’s by-and-large a predominantly white field. Moving into the more country-music-adjacent side of soul/blues/rhythm-and-blues genres can be much more challenging for African American artists, Darius Rucker and Charley Pride aside. Copeland embraces the challenge, explicitly exploring race throughout the album, from “Ain’t Got Time for Hate” (“Black and white / brown or tan / Every woman / child and man / Rich or poor / Gay and straight / We ain’t got time for hate”) to “Would You Take My Blood,” a track challenging racists to consider if they would accept the donated blood of a black person.

But the point of America’s Child isn’t to examine the state of race in the contemporary United States. The purpose is to make great music, and Copeland accomplishes this while still making larger points about the world in which we all live. Copeland is an artist unafraid of challenging genres or social issues. There’s something encouragingly patriotic about the endeavor.

By Steven Ovadia, who gives 4 1/2 stars (out of 5) to the Shemekia Copeland’s brand new America’s Child. Read the whole “Shemekia Copeland Crafts a Vital Album for Our Volatile Times with ‘America’s Child’” review, on Albumism