Janiva Magness has made quite the name for herself these past 15 years as a soulful blues singer of precision and power. As such, one would not expect songs written by the likes of Matthew Sweet, Paul Thorn or Ray Wylie Hubbard to be on her radar.
But on her latest album, “Stronger For It,” Magness proves that she can take on all of them — and more.
On one of the album’s stand-out cuts, “Whoop and Holler,” written by Texas troubadour Ray Wylie Hubbard, she ups the ante on the original rendition with vocals that sound like they belong at the front of a church, and a thick, passionate band arrangement fueled by guitar, organ and drums. This “Whoop and Holler” is so propulsive, so dripping with sweat and joy and rigorous ecstasy, that the obvious temptation is to turn the stereo up louder and start speaking in musical tongues right alongside Magness and her friends.