Banshee

Banshee

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Following a pair of phenomenal albums from Adrian Younge—the Black Dynamite soundtrack and Venice Dawn’s Something About April—the label wing of indispensable music publication Wax Poetics rolls on with soul singer and taxidermy enthusiast Kendra Morris. Like Younge, Morris is infatuated with late-’60s and early-’70s psychedelic R&B and funk, and a little rock is added to the mix with help from producer/guitarist Jeremy Page and a steady backing band (which includes the rhythm section from Page’s That Handsome Devil). Morris recorded burning, tripped-out Pink Floyd and Metallica covers, and she performed Funkadelic’s “I’ll Bet You” with legendary Detroit session guitarist Dennis Coffey. The third song is what’s in her wheelhouse. In fact, considering her elegantly gusty style, she recalls Parliament/Funkadelic associate Ruth Copeland; some of these songs would not be out of place on either one of Copeland’s Invictus albums. Most compelling of all is “Concrete Waves,” with deceptively confrontational verses over a tiptoeing backdrop that ramp up into a creepy, spell-casting chorus. When it comes to “If You Didn’t Go,” parallels aren’t as easy to draw; as an instrumental, it might be considered easy listening soul, but Morris projects an affecting feather-light melody that sounds utterly singular. A couple of relatively modern-sounding, borderline MOR songs lack the sting present in the more haunting material. That Morris refers to herself as a banshee seems accurate, though she’s too controlled to wail. Anyone who values Amy Winehouse’s Back to Black, Raphael Saadiq’s Stone Rollin’, or Alice Smith’s For Lovers, Dreamers & Me should check this. –Andy Kellman, All Music

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