First Appeared in The Music Box, May 2008, Volume 15, #5
Written by John Metzger
Mon May 19, 2008, 04:00 PM CDT
It is a tremendously frustrating experience to listen to Rare Child, the latest outing from up-and-coming rock ’n‘ soul star Danielia Cotton. A gospel-soul singer with a penchant for gritty, southern rock and biting, British-bred blues, Cotton undeniably has a powerful presence. In fact, there isn’t a single moment on Rare Child when it isn’t immediately apparent that she possesses all of the raw talent and charisma that she needs to succeed in the music business. Too often, however, she heads straight for the middle of the road. Consequently, instead of sounding like she singlehandedly has revitalized Tina Turner’s legacy by washing away several decades’ worth of overly polished, pop-oriented distractions, Cotton’s work frequently exudes the air of Sheryl Crow’s watered-down brand of classic rock.
Over the past three years, since releasing her sophomore set Small White Town, Cotton has been racking up accolades for her work. Nevertheless, almost all of the praise that she has received has revolved around her stage persona. Rare Child undeniably is an attempt not only to capitalize on this, but also to propel her into the mainstream market. This, however, is precisely what’s wrong with the album. Over the course of Rare Child, Cotton spends too much time chasing expectations rather than creating them. As a result, her potential is put on display, but it never is fully realized.
In particular, the arrangements that frame Cotton’s songs throughout Rare Child typically sound as if they have been designed to play well within the confines of the oversized, outdoor sheds that serve as music venues. The guitars stomp, chug, and howl beneath Cotton’s commanding vocals, but there’s a cold sterility to the music that diminishes the overall atmosphere of the collection. As Make U Move, the album’s funky opening cut, progresses, its initial earthy, percussive drive becomes clouded by its hard rock charge, which settles somewhere between AC/DC and Lenny Kravitz. Elsewhere, subtle nods to Led Zeppelin are tucked into Testify, while the introduction to Running adopts the country-soul twang of the Rolling Stones.
Of course, none of these are bad reference points either to have or to use, but like Kravitz, Cotton has a tendency to become lost within the process of trying to create something that sounds big. Instead of emphasizing her distinctive talent, she, along with producers Brad Jones and Joe Blaney, hid it behind a wall of generalizations. Such a strategy might sell a lot of albums, but it makes it exceedingly difficult to see Cotton as the bold, new voice she wants to be. ½
Of Further Interest...
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2008 The Music Box