Music City Blues reviews Bonnie Bramlett's "Beautiful"

Written by Don Crow
Monday, 16 June 2008
Posted: June 17, 2008

Bonnie Bramlett is one of the true pioneers of Southern soul. From her beginnings as the only Caucasian member of Ike and Tina Turner's Ikettes, as well as half of the husband-wife duo Delaney and Bonnie, she's been in the music business for some forty years. With legendary producer Johnny Sandlin at the helm, she's released "Beautiful" on the Rockin' Camel label, which takes her back to her roots, to the very beginnings of what would become known as "Southern rock," during her days with Phil Walden's Capricorn label.

In her teens, Bonnie would sneak into blues clubs in the St. Louis area to sing with the likes of Little Milton and Albert King. And, on these eleven cuts, she wraps her voice around them with the same verve and intense feelings that she's always been noted for. For the uninitiated, she can go from a whisper to a wail, and make you laugh and cry within the same song. And, like all of us, she's matured, and that maturity shows on the record, too. A good case in point is this: not one to mix politics and music, even back in the volatile Sixties, Bonnie believed the time was right to release her scintillating take on Stephen Stills' "For What It's Worth," and an anthem of intolerance and the realization that life is indeed too short, "Some Of My Best Friends." A classic "leavin' song" is given a "torchy" reading by Bonnie with "It's Gonna Rain All Night," with a smooth backing horn section. A spiritual Bonnie reminds us that, in these troubled times, "He'll Take Care Of You," and that "there's always someone to catch you when you fall" on "I Do Believe."

Bonnie's rockin' side has always grabbed our attention, and there are two prime examples of this which serve as our favorites. "Shake Something Loose" is guaranteed to get you moving, with killer slide from Kelvin Holly behind Bonnie's hot vocal lead. Daughter Bekka duets with mom on a song co-written by Bekka and Gary Nicholson about habits that are hard to put down, "Strongest Weakness." The punched-up horns and slide, again from Kelvin Holly, make this one a good definition of what Southern boogie is all about.

Bonnie Bramlett is a beautiful woman with a beautiful voice, and "Beautiful" is just like her--elegance with that special touch of down-home soul. Bonnie's sho 'nuff keepin' the faith with this one!! Until next time...Sheryl and Don Crow.