Claudette King

We're Onto Something

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Claudette King is the youngest daughter of blues legend B.B. King, and although her father's influence is very much in evidence on her debut album, it's only one of many. This disc has been a long time coming: King has been performing in San Francisco clubs since the mid-'80s, and the stylistic range she's developed over the years is impressive. While you'll hear plenty of solid blues on this album -- notice in particular the rocking, barrelhouse big-band blues of "Can I Walk You to Your Car" -- you'll hear even more R&B and soul, and her vocal style has more than a hint of the church in it. For this album, producer Dan Bacon brought in a couple of expert songwriters to help with material, and the songs written by Dennis Walker and Alan Mirikitani are mostly very good: "This Ain't How I Planned It" is a deliciously soulful ballad, while "A Dog Like You" is a slow-burning number that starts off sounding like a classic kiss-off song but then throws you a curve ball. The rather monotonous "Boogie Some" and the ponderously message-heavy jump blues of "Isn't Peace the Least We Can Do" both fall a bit flat, but these minor missteps are easily counterbalanced by such high-quality fare as the funky R&B workout "Whole Lotta Nothing" and a swinging big-band version of the Robert Cray song "Playing with My Friends." King's voice is clear and solid, with a pleasant fuzz around the edges, and her energy and joy are palpable on every track.

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