After Janiva Magness added a 2016 Grammy® nomination to her 27 Blues Music Award nominations – with seven wins, including Entertainer of the Year – she might have taken at least a short rest on her laurels. Instead, one of the preeminent voices in contemporary American roots music has raised the bar for herself. Magness’ fourteenth album, "Love Is an Army," is a brilliantly crafted bridge between the past and present, blending the echoes of classic soul and country music with timeless themes of love and the very contemporary sound of protest.
The dozen songs on "Love Is an Army" reverberate with the timeless character of the Memphis rhythm and blues patented by the Stax and Hi Records studios, especially in tracks like “Back to Blue,” which opens the album and sets its tone, and “Hammer,” which features fellow Grammy® nominee and multiple Blues Music Awards winner Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica. Another Tennessee music city, Nashville, is the geographic touchstone for the title number, a duet with Texas singer-songwriter Bryan Stephens, and for “On and On,” with Poco front man Rusty Young on pedal steel guitar. Like Magness, both Stephens and Young are on Blue Élan Records. Other guest artists include the legendary R'n'B singer Delbert McClinton, Mississippi hill country blues torchbearer Cedric Burnside, bluegrass guitar and banjo virtuoso Courtney Hartman of the band Della Rae, and pianist/songwriter Phil Parlapiano.
Marty's review: Janiva Magness shows her best on this release by blending all her favorite styles of music from roots to soul to country to produce an album that is every bit a winner in all departments. With a sterling cast of guest players along with a top notch backing band and her own classy vocal delivery, this release shows why Janiva is such a well lauded artist.