Instructions for experiencing “Black & Blue” by the JMU (James Madison University) BluesTones:
1. Load up the album on a portable music player.
2. Apply decent headphones.
3. Bundle up. It’s March.
4. Press play.
5. Go for a walk.
6. Strut unintentionally.
7. Marvel at the girl drummers’ kick drums, especially on the third track.
8. Also at some strong solo performances, especially on the third track.
9. Enjoy the relaxing wind-down of the last two tracks.
10. Go home and make some cocoa. That was a cold 44 minutes. (But worth it, right? Good. I’m glad you thought so.)
Where is the Annie Lennox, the Anna Nalick, the Imogen Heap, the Sara Bareilles? Delightfully absent, that’s where. WIth no offense intended to pop covers—believe me: I, too, have sung my fair share of Sarah McLachlan—it’s refreshing to hear an album of the power ballads we shall call Diva Rock. The song choices are equal parts R&B (Beyoncé, Jordin Sparks) and country (Carter’s Chord, Jessie James), with a dash of straightforward rock at the beginning (Paramore) plus one misplaced gem of the indie singer/songwriter persuasion (the Rescues).
Read the full review on CASA.org.