It’s not often one comes across a singer/songwriter who has the voice of a veteran, songwriting that can be compared to many, and an air of confidence, as she sends many “letters” to her new found fans. This is what this “lady sings the blues,” artist has in her debut album titled Daunielle.
Listening to Daunielle, pronounced, Dawn-Yell, she sounds like she has had her own solo act going for 40 years. Yes it’s true, Daunielle has been in the entertainment business since her little girl days. Growing up in the Memphis, Tennessee area she is the daughter of William Brown, a member of musical group, The Mad Lads from the 1960’s. Basically, music has been in her blood since an early age, as dad liked to refer to her as his “back stage baby.” With her early childhood career, at age 10, she sang the “Trix Are For Kids,” ad on local radio, and was the first “Little Miss Black Memphis” in 1976. I just loved that cereal.
As I listen to this album, she sings so effortlessly, like she is just singing in the kitchen. The fact is this lady, as a professional entertainer, has had her share of achievements working with people and bands like Solomon Burke’s, Nothing’s Impossible album in 2010, sang back up on Huey Lewis’s Soulsville album in 2010, and has sang as a back up singer for Huey’s band for five years. In many ways, she is a veteran and it seems she has a passion as one listen’s to her debut album. For this writer, when a singer/songwriter is considered an accomplished performer, it’s hard to tell when she is singing for herself, or when she is singing for others. All of her tracks are very well done, as they should be, being produced by multi-Grammy award winner Jim Gaines. Wow, the new kids in the recording studio have nothing over this guy. He is one of the best.
Which brings me to the first track, “Runaway Train.” This song is a perfect example. Is she singing to herself or to her listeners, or maybe a little of both in this act of substance abuse? The song seems to be a finale, realizing you can’t dance with the demon, as she sings “don’t give a damn, its easy to tell,” “like a back sliding sinner headed straight for hell.” “You’re a runaway train rockin and reelin.” As Daunielle sings, maybe there was a time when the character thought she was the solution, but accused of being part of the problem. “I love you babe but I can’t take you back, “got no excuse, got no one to blame, you’re out of control, you’re a runaway train.” Bob Trenchard , Johnny Rawls, and James Armstrong in writing this song brought drug abuse to a reality.
The next track, “Early Grave,” is a continuation of the abuse. It’s the infidelity that is her killer now. “Three in the morning, you sneaking in the room, ya smelling like Hennessy and her cheap perfume.” “Gonna send me to a early grave.” “Early Grave” compares one to Elvis, Robert Johnson, and Janis living “life in the fast lane.” “ They could not slow down, no no, before they passed away.” I guess addiction isn’t just a drug. This piece is very well done, I particularly like the guitar that reminded me a bit of B.B. King.
However, it’s “Damn your Eyes,“ that I really love. It’s not my favorite, but very close. Daunielle does a great job with this number. The struggle and confusion are there in her voice as she is trying to break free of the power. “Damn your eyes for making me fall in love again.” “I guess I see what I want to see.” “I fall completely under your spell.” “Damn your eyes.” Etta James would be very proud listening to Daunielle’s rendition. There is so much emotion going on here. However, it is “Damn Your Eyes,” that takes me to my favorite, Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher.” Ok, I have to admit the song reminds me of “Ghost Busters.” “Higher and Higher” is simply a great song that fits so well into Daunielle’s album. She does an excellent job with it, and is my favorite. Basically, it’s like she is sharing the stage with Jackie and Rita. I especially love the organ/keyboard, which is present throughout the album, giving the album that 60’s and 70’s feel.
“I Got A Voice”,” and “Nobody Cared” that Daunielle co-wrote with Sandy Carroll, are another bright spot with Catfood Records. First of all, I love the piano in “I Got A Voice.” Daunielle has adopted two children that were born, “medically-challenged.” No doubt about this one, she is singing for herself and her children right next to her side. However, it is with “Nobody Cared,” another collaboration of Daunielle and Carroll, that I picked up on a spiritual gospel sound. This track is one that many can relate to. If you listen to the intro, the piano/keyboard, goes from high notes down to low notes several times, It reminds me of many aspects in people’s lives. This tune sounds like a story of someone constantly falling down, then getting back up, falling down then getting back up over and over again. Then to add to the turmoil, going through life as if no one cares. She then opens her eyes, having some kind of epiphany realizing somebody does care and teaches her to rise above her situations, teaching her to fly. “Open my eyes to see,” “Somebody cared, somebody cared for me.” “I learn how to fly.” Read what you like, but it sounds like she has found something very real and sustaining in her life, most likely God, a “higher power.” “Nobody Cared” is of itself a “faith based” piece. Nicely done, with an “I’ll Fly Away” spin on it.
I could go on forever about this album. “Biloxi” caught my attention, a nicely done piece with a little “attitude latitude.” Bottom line is Daunielle has a very good album, it is well produced, and well written. This is an album that could go somewhere, and it should. It mixes spirituality with relationships and hardships. Once again, it should. It is life, It is the “Blues.” This album takes you in many directions. Daunielle not only sings the “Blues,” she feels the “Blues.”
This is Daunielle, simply being….. Daunielle.