Roxanne Potvin

Roxanne Potvin
The Way It Feels

Ruf Records RUF 1128

By Bill Copeland
October 2007

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Roxanne Potvin may be a recognized name in blues circles.But she wonít be recognized by blues circles for her new disc, The Way It Feels.

Although it has its moments, this record is made up of pale imitations of blues and R&B idioms. The result is a whole package that left me feeling unsatisfied, and hungry for something with more substance.

Potvin and her band, and a few interesting guest stars, let the energy run out too soon. Iím not hearing any outstanding tunes. There are a lot of nice touches, but nothing here really grabs me.

Although the opening track, "A Love Thatís Simple," features John Hiatt as a guest harmony singer, the song and its brass section is too breezy to grab my attention. It felt like someone put a rehearsal demo on the disc.

Another pleasant piece called "Hurtiní Child" featured the accordion and mandolin to create a song that was totally not anything remotely resembling blues. This song, in fact, doesnít even resemble anything other than a whimsy from Potvinís own imagination.

Potvin does pick up the pace a little on her fourth track, "Caught Up," a rock and roll song with an oldies feel, and a little piano boogie augmenting her brittle and tasteful rhythm guitar notes. Again, though, there is no particular steam to this song.

Potvin sings her piece "La Merveille" in French with guest vocalist Daniel Lanois. And other than that I donít usually hear songs in French, I donít have a reason to listen to this song.

A slow grooving number called "While I Wait For You" is the highlight of the disc. Guest star Bruce Cockburn plays mellow octave guitar leads while Potvin backs him solidly on rhythm, and the song gives a palpable sense of anticipation.

Another workable piece, "Your Love Keeps Working On Me," uses the percussive beats that sound like a hollow steel drum to set the foundation for this danceable tune that finds Potvin finally singing with some emotion.

"Say It" features a gospel-like chorus from Potvinís male back up singers, and Potvinís lead guitar becomes much more expressive here than in other places on the record. But her solo piano ballad, "Donít PayAttention," has a cocktail lounge feel that has as much excitement as the last song a soloist pulls out of the hat just before lights come up and she has to wing it because she hasnít played it in 20 years.

Despite many fine moments, The Way It Feels feels pretty boring.

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