CD Review: "Shine" by Shana Tucker (Mama Gooch Music)

Shine is the latest solo recording from the multi-talented, vocalist, Shana Tucker, who also plays the cello, guitar on this bright, busy, bluesy, jazzy album. This is a cd full of Tucker’s compositions, insightful autobiographical titles, like the upbeat “Fast Lane” with a great line “leave the porch light on” and the ever-moving “No Get Back (Together With Me)”. These, including “A Secret That I Keep,” are probably the best and most rhythmic of all of the selections. They all have snappy, direct lyrics, good beats and a simple melody. But, most importantly, they tell a story , that’s what a work of art should do, in addition to making the audience realize that life is universal.

Tucker, an Amityville, New York native, North Carolina-based, singer/songwriter/cellist, began playing the piano at an early age, performed on the cello through high school and college. She has studied at Howard University, Brooklyn College Conservatory , worked with her trio, Hue, and has arranged/composed compositions on several cds, theatre productions and TV commercials. Her commissioned pieces include “Nexxus” and “Savannah” and her group, Hue, has opened for Hamiett Bluett, Vinx, Sweei Honey and the Rock, and the Blind Boys of Alabama.

But this recording, Shine, which features a smilling Shana on blue-colored back and front covers, is her maiden voyage, her launching project, since recently moving to North Carolina, as a solo artist and is tight, polished, very professionally done with her nice, angelic, pleasant-sounding voice through out. The title cut, “Shine” is an inspiring ballad which is fitting for an album that does that easily. It is poetic, makes sense, when she says: “shine on you and me.” Her sense of lyricism is real keen and the words of her songs are just as compelling as her distinctive, outstanding singing.

Her fine musicians were Chris Boerner, guitar; Scotty Miller, guitar; Pete Kimosh, bass; Josh Stohl, drums; Stephen Coffman, drums; James Wallace, piano; Byron Elliot, rhodes; Grant Osbourne, piano;. They all performed very well as if they were vibing off of her, and helping her to gracefully, yet forcefully, tell her tale. It’s an excellent offering from a jazz talent that deserves more recognition, whose imprint and vitality has already been quite visible in North Carolina, and whose solo album, Shine, is a sure sign of greater, better things to come.

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Larry Reni Thomas