Thru the Night
That it took seven years for American-born, Berlin-based singer/composer/arranger Twana Rhodes to create her resplendent Thru the Night (Nagel-Heyer) seems entirely reasonable. Such grand art doesn't emerge overnight. Rhodes, who sounds like a sturdy-voiced Diana Ross injected with Aretha Franklin's uncompromising forthrightness, arranged all 14 of the album's tracks and wrote a dozen of them. As a writer she suggests the sharp social commentary of Neil Young (whose "Hey Hey, My My" is one of two covers included here), particularly on the nihilistic "Johnny West Side," shot through with urban anger, the scrappy survivalist anthem "Dragon Song" and the politicized blend of disillusion and hope at the heart of "Healing the Nations." But Rhodes is equally adept at plumbing the various shades of love, as evidenced by the cautious "Rainbows," the sagely empowered "No Anything," the surrender of "Count on Me" and the bittersweet ode to the innocence of childhood friendship that is the title track.