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Shayna Steele: Rise

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She’s backed Moby, Bette Midler and Kelly Clarkson, performed on Broadway, toured with Rihanna, recorded an EP and a full-length disc under her own steam and been hailed as an “R&B diva.” As she’s carved this circuitous path, Shayna Steele has also acquired significant jazz cred, working alongside the likes of Dave Douglas and Snarky Puppy, who included her catchy “Gone Under” on their Family Dinner, Volume 1.

Now, for her sophomore album, Steele seems bent on bringing that kaleidoscopic wealth of experience crashing together. Across 11 tracks anchored by her longtime musical partner and husband, pianist David Cook, but also featuring such jazz A-listers as Christian McBride, Marcus Miller and Eric Harland, she ventures from gossamer folk to hard-driving rock, adding generous dollops of jazz and soul, and even a hint of country, along the way.

Steele’s playlist includes just three covers: a soul-deep rendition of Bill Withers’ “Grandma’s Hands,” a charmingly insouciant reading of Fiona Apple’s “Paper Bag” and a thundering, Muscle Shoals-worthy reworking of Mose Allison’s “Everybody’s Cryin’ Mercy.” On the eight originals, all co-written with Cook and including Steele’s own blistering treatment of “Gone Under,” she can be slyly sexy (“I Got You”), bouncily ebullient (“Sunshine Girl”), gloriously self-possessed (the Aretha-worthy “Coulda Had Me”) and ferociously penitent (“Wear Me Down,” featuring Robert Randolph). Broadening her circle of jazz playmates, she also offers a stunning duet with Sachal on her aching “Can’t Let You Go,” delicately trimmed by Grégoire Maret on harmonica.

Originally Published