The bottom-line reason soul veterans such as Etta James and Bettye LaVette return to the blues is perhaps the bottom line: There's mad cash to be made at festivals and touring with horns and strings isn't cheap. Twenty-eight-year-old Shemekia Copeland
is no veteran, and she's no soul singer, but the blues belter turns those economics on their head. Her last album, The Soul Truth
, is as close to Southern soul as she's ever ventured, with guitar finesse and production brass from Steve Cropper and her own fiery persona leaping around the grooves. Copeland's material can be suspect and perfunctory, but when she tears up Eddie Hinton's "Something Heavy," she shows just how weighty soul-blues can be.