Dandelion Music, 2009
REVIEW BY: David Bowling
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/29/2009
There is an old saying that the apple does not fall very far from the tree, but in the case of Jenni Muldaur, it must have bounced quite a ways.
She is the daughter of Geoff and Maria Muldaur. They met when they were members of The Jim Kweskin Jug Band, and thus were a part of the ‘60s folk movement. Maria’s career would take a pop turn in the early ‘70s, and her biggest hit, “Midnight At The Oasis,” was particularly memorable.
Jenni, on the other hand, has traveled a different musical road. Her press releases classify her as a soul and jump-blues artist, and that would be an accurate assessment. She also possesses a very strong voice with excellent tone, which enables her to tackle a variety and depth of material.
She has been an active vocalist since her debut album in the early ‘90s. She has toured with such notable artists as Lou Reed, David Byrne, Michael McDonald, Meatloaf, Todd Rundgren, John Cale, Marianne Faithful, and Eric Clapton. She has now established her own Dandelion Music production company/label, and Dearest Darlin’ is her first release on it.
I have to say that Muldaur knows her music history. She only wrote one of the twelve tracks. The other eleven are an eclectic group of soul and blues songs that span the years from 1934-1999. She proves that a good song remains a good song with the right artist and arrangement.
She tackles a number of classic soul songs. Barbara Acklin’s “Just Ain’t No Love” and Lee Dorsey’s “You’re Breaking Me Up” both are perfect vehicles for her expressive voice. The use of brass for the background was a wise choice as it enhances the sound in a positive way. It’s difficult to cover a James Brown song, but she gives an admirable take on “Lost Someone.” She wisely travels her own path, making the vocal much smoother than Brown’s original.
She reaches back into blues history for several tracks. “I’ve Got A Feeling,” which was recorded by Big Maybelle in 1954, allows Muldaur to just let loose vocally. The title song was a 1957 Bo Diddley creation and she remains loyal to the original, though from a female perspective. The most interesting track is the old field recording “Hopali.” Handclapping and maybe some light percussion support her mostly a cappella performance.
Dearest Darlin’ will hopefully gain Jenni Muldaur a wide following. This release shows that she not only has talent but also the experience to put together an interesting and enjoyable album.