New Moon Born
Rain suits my current sedentary life style and although I enjoy having my reviews be authentic as I generally listen to the work while riding my bike down the paths of righteous profanity that meet at the intersection of Chicago and Franklin, Jana Mashonee will have to enjoy the ride that is my mind and my imagination.
Jana Mashonee’s latest CD, New Moon Born, has her face on the front insert and her beaty stunned me. I immediately had to stop myself from making snap judgments because in this business talent speaks far louder than it looks.
“In addition to providing all the vocals and piano, Jana wrote and co-produced the album. Jana has also recorded a Grammy nominated concept album, American Indian Story and American Indian Christmas, a unique album of ten traditional Christmas carols, each sung in a different Native American tongue as well as several chart topping club hits, including a cover of Led Zeppelin’s epic, “Stairway to Heaven” earning her recognition in the Billboard dance charts.
The musician is also the founder of her own non-profit, charitable giving organization called Jana’s Kids which assists Native children with achieving their dreams.
On New Moon Boon, the intro track “Osiris’ Star” is a song that refers to the Egyptian God of the underworld or the afterlife. The god Osiris has implications with regard to re-incarnation as the mythological story talks about being brought back to life for the purpose of impregnating Isis who then bore him a son, Horus. The track features some flute fills over a 5/4 time signature reminiscent of “Take 5” by Dave Brubeck that makes it more jazz than R-n-B. Jana starts the CD by showing us her versatility and skill.
The next track “Faded Love” is a slow tempo R-n-B ballad that reminds me of something Mariah. It features a competent arrangement that allows space for a vocalist that’s solid with her own ability. It even reminds me a little of the Stylistics back in the day, both melodically and in the arrangement.
She follows with “Solid Ground”, one of my faves, a love song of support and providing a framework for a strong love. “I will be your solid ground, the safe harbor you never found; I will be your heart reborn, the shelter in your endless storm.” This is a beautifully romantic sentiment. Who doesn’t enjoy a little romance?
The fourth track, “Used to Be in Love”, includes strings as part of the arrangement and is a nice, professional touch appropriate to the sentiment of the song.
“Miracle”, another of my favorites, is definitely R-n-B in flavor with a little bit of funkiness to the rhythm, and something a little Gwen Stefani/No Doubt in the harmony vocals. You could do far worse than Gwen and her crew.
“For Just One Night” starts with an acoustic piano arpeggio, a Spanish guitar fill and breath as an intro, and features a complex chord structure backing the melody which is a little unique for R-n-B. And the strings with the arpeggio on the piano give the sentiment an appropriate backing. She also provides us with a Spanish language version of this song at the end of the CD. There’s something incredibly romantic about a woman singing her material in Spanish.
“Angel” features a beautiful piano arpeggio that moves through an interesting modulation in a slow tempo. It is ideal for grabbing hold of your partner and placing your cheek next to hers in the step that dances the dance before you do the dance.
The song “Carousel” sounds a little like that hit “We Are Family”, more rock than R-n-B – but who’s counting when the vocals are so strong? The double time reprise steps it up and rocks under Jana’s vocal improvisation in a finale that is reminiscent of Otis Redding finishing a song. A strong ending to a strong performance.
If you’re going to make it in the field as an R-n-B singer you’ve got to have range, control and a strong vibrato as well as good looks. You’ve also got to have that intangible known as soul and Jana has the whole package as far as I’m concerned. This woman has got skills and I’m sure you’ll be hearing more from her in the future. She is not to be underestimated just because she’s beautiful. Jana is not just another pretty face.
As I sit in the lonely light of the R-n-B Minneapolis skyline reflecting on the rhythm of the falling rain, I dream of home. Home isn’t a place, it’s a figment of pigment at the end of an imaginary bike ride.
For more info see Jana’s website at: www.myspace.com/janamashonee.
Jamison Mahto: Reporter/Indigenous
In The News, Indigenous In Music CD Review
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