Danielia Cotton

Small White Town

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Hopewell, N.J. native Danielia Cotton called her first full-length album Small White Town because the singer/songwriter grew up in a small town that was, in fact, largely white. But Cotton herself isn't white. She's African-American, and she's the type of African-American artist who -- like Tracy Chapman, Living Colour, Joan Armatrading, 24-7 Spyz, Lenny Kravitz or Sound Barrier -- is seldom, if ever, heard on urban contemporary or classic soul radio stations in the United States. Cotton is very much a rocker; while there are R&B and blues elements in her vocals, she is a rocker first and foremost. Much of Cotton's inspiration comes from classic rock; Bonnie Raitt, Tina Turner, and Janis Joplin are major influences, as are the Rolling Stones. And on some of her harder material (most notably, "JC I Try" and "Devil in Disguise") a healthy appreciation of Led Zeppelin asserts itself. But for all her '60s and '70s influences, Cotton isn't oblivious to alternative rock. PJ Harvey is also an influence, and there are some Nirvana-isms on the grungy "Today." Small White Town won't go down in history as the most groundbreaking release of 2005, but in terms of craftsmanship and quality, this CD is a winner. Cotton (who wrote or co-wrote almost all of the material) is the type of vocalist who sings lyrics like she really means them -- she brings a great deal of conviction to her performances -- and all of the songs on Small White Town are memorable. From the moody "Take My Heart" and the reflective "It's Only Life" to the aggressive "Devil in Disguise," there are no weak moments on this highly promising, if somewhat derivative, effort.

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