Shemekia Copeland has one of the most expressive voices in the blues/roots genre. Her powerful vibrato and unmistakable timbre as well as her absolute command of every genre she explores are almost beyond compare. Daughter of the late bluesman Johnny Copeland and born in Harlem, New York in 1979, she officially began her career at the age of 18 with her debut album Turn The Heat Up (1998). Since then, she has established herself as a prominent figure within the scene, having obtained eight Blues Music Awards and four Grammy nominations throughout her storied career. Copeland has also never refrained from discussing delicate topics involving politics and society in her lyrics, an approach she explored with great emphasis on her last two albums: America’s Child (2018) and Uncivil War (2020). Further following this path, she has just released Done Come Too Far.
Done Come Too Far is a work focused on the experiences of Copeland as she navigates modern-day America as a black woman and as a mother. Her profound social conscience is translated into courageous lyrics that dwell on race relations, violence, and social struggles. And as a vehicle for these timely observations, comes intense music. The songs on Done Come Too Far rank among some of the best Copeland has ever recorded, and are elevated by the album’s masterful production. The instruments sound crystal clear and well-calibrated, especially Copeland’s voice, which rises above the mix but never drowns any of its elements. Regarding the personnel making this possible, Copeland is backed by a core band (Will Kimbrough on guitar, Lex Price on bass, and Pete Abbott on drums) and a number of guest musicians. Production, mastering, and mixing are handled by Will Kimbrough, Dex Green, and Jim DeMain.
The album kicks off with the heavy rock riffage of “Too Far To Be Gone”. The biting, layered guitar attack adds a level of intensity only matched by Copeland’s passionate delivery. Copeland continues using the rock skeleton for the following track: the uptempo, hard-hitting “Pink Turns To Red”. She then slows down for the sentimental blues “The Talk”. The emotional, soul-stirring number tells the story of a mother who warns her child of the dangers of a society where racial tension reigns. Inspired by her own motherhood, Copeland unleashes a larger-than-life performance, made possible by her superlative dynamic control and towering vibrato. “Done Come Too Far,” the opening song’s follow-up, is a neo-western-textured duet with Cedric Burnside. The sparse, evocative instrumentation highlights the duo’s brilliant vocals, which reach their peak in a highly compelling chorus.
Despite the album’s dense sonic and lyrical nature, there is still room for light-hearted moments such as the country-infused, dancing numbers “Fried Catfish And Bibles” and “Fell In Love With A Honky”. Copeland also covers her father on the classic, textbook blues number “Nobody But You” while “Why Why Why” features hints of gospel.
Done Come Too Far is a modern blues album at its best, and a work of a woman of her time, deeply aware of her surroundings. Certainly among the best records of this year so far, the release expands the blues’ boundaries while remaining faithful to its roots, and adds another triumphant chapter to an already stellar career.
The Review: 9/10
Can’t Miss Tracks
– Too Far To Be Gone
– Pink Turns To Red
– The Talk
– Done Come Too Far
– Fell In Love With a Honky
The Big Hit
– The Talk
Buy the album: Amazon