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Michelle Wilson: Tryin’ to Make a Little Love

New England’s reigning R&B diva Michelle Wilson heads South on her third Bullseye outing,Tryin’ to Make a Little Love (Bullseye Blues & Jazz 11661-9610-2; 53:50). Backed by a bunch of New Orleans’ finest sessionmen, including bassist James Singleton, drummer Johnny Vidacovich, trumpeter Charlie Miller and guitarist Cranston Clements, Wilson slings lots of sassy attitude on tough shuffles like “Ay la Bas” and “Guess You Didn’t Love Me Enough.” She really lets loose and belts with santified gusto on the slow moving funk groove of “I Would Rather Do Without It,” which alludes to the Meters’ “Hey Pocky Way.” The uptempo jump blues romp “Bring It Home to Me” seems tailor made for the nouveau swing set while her powerfully moving rendition of the Doc Pomus-Mac Rebennack gospel-funk ballad “Responsibility” places Michelle squarely in Aretha territory. Wilson plays the hipster on a jivey “Half Past the Blues” and on Johnny Otis’ “In the Driver’s Seat” then turns around gets intimate and all “sincere” on the countrified, Tammy Wynette-ish ballad “Life Rolls On.” Her version of Joan Osborne’s title cut is a stone rumba-boogie in the great tradition of Professor Longhair, Allen Toussaint and that whole lineage of great Crescent City ivory ticklers. A funky good time.

Originally Published