Black Music Matters Festival

Greta Gaines

Tumbleweed – 2017 (Big Air)

Reviewed by Lee Zimmerman

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CDs by Greta Gaines

A former law student and athlete, and currently an artist, activist and entrepreneur, Greta Gaines can offer her share of worldly wisdom. So it's no surprise to find that her purveying a knowing perspective and a somewhat dark demeanor befitting one who has witnessed the all sides of life's more telling encounters. Like her last album, "Lighthouse & The Impossible Love," Gaines continues to shift her stance from the warm Americana embrace of her earliest outings to a more sultry style befitting a woman who has adapted the role of a seductive chanteuse. Once cloaked in the image of the all American girl next door, she now purrs and wails with a suggestive swagger.

The dramatic designs are in evidence everywhere here, in the foreboding yet straight forward title track, the shuffle and sway of "Leo for Real" and the sly designs of "Begin Again." Like a siren that beckons from a distant shore, Gaines lures her listeners with an aura of mystery and menace. Nevertheless, she tempers any sense of apprehension with some soothing comfort as well, especially as conveyed through "Heal Me" and "Sweet William," the latter of which beckons with its opening entreaty, "Come closer, closer, sit for a spell."

Though only seven songs deep, "Tumbleweed" is filled with tangled tales of love, desire and occasional remorse, but it's a credit to Gaines' ability to blend sensuality and suggestion that she's able to bring these evocative emotions to the fore. Her assured presence, coupled with her riveting performances, make this a compelling set of songs that's as effortless as it is engaging.