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February 14, 2014

Music review: JJ Thames brings style, smolder

NORMAN — Musician: JJ Thames

Album name: Tell You What I Know

Why you should listen: JJ Thames can tell you a thing or two. The Motown native is from a home where GM paychecks allowed her to study classical and jazz music. Thames’ blues career began in earnest with her personal Great Migration reversed from Detroit to Jackson, Miss. She is a young, natural-born smoking hot blues diva breathing fresh life into an old genre.

Thames’ style includes an endearingly delicate vocal lilt that makes her sound like no one else. At the same time she boasts a mighty strength in her voice that comes from an irresistible super-feminine power base. In other words, girl got soul. Witness her core revelation on first track and Thames original composition “Souled Out.” It begins with gospel cadence and a promise to tell the story of chasing her dream. Cue the tambourine, choir back-up and palm percussion.

Thames fulfills her pledge in the remaining 10 songs, most of which she either wrote or collaborated on. “I Got What You Need” showcases Thames going from erotic smolder to full-on three-alarm blaze. Her “Hey Boy” holler would turn every male head from nine to 90 in most any room. “My Kinda Man” is probably about the kind of dependable father and husband Thames saw going off to the assembly line every day. “He’s a big old country boy who loves his mama and takes good care of me,” Thames sings with tender passion. But the vocal fervor just doesn’t stop. “No Turning Back” finds Thames taking her womanly growl to new levels. The title track is a thumb nail sketch telling the places this singing career has taken her so far. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to know Thames is going much farther.

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