Personnel: Roxanne Potvin (vocals, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, hand claps); Daniel Lanois (vocals); Colin Linden (acoustic guitar, electric guitar, baritone guitar, dobro, mandolin); Bruce Cockburn (electric guitar); Tom McGinley (baritone saxophone); Wayne Jackson (trumpet, trombone); Paul Aucoin (vibraphone); Bob Babbitt, Mark W. Winchester, David Roe , Mark Winchester (upright bass); Bryan Owings (drums, hand claps, percussion); John Whynot (hand claps); J.D. Fizer, Joe Rice, Robert Hamlett (background vocals).
The bilingual multi-instrumentalist (guitar/piano) and vocalist will likely be lumped with fellow Canadian blues women such as Sue Foley (who was instrumental in bringing her to Ruf's attention), but on the basis of this sophomore release, that's misleading. Rather, the Ottawa raised musician infuses blues into a variety of singer/songwriter styles. The Way It Feels, which was released in Canada almost a year before it came out in the States, revels in different musical set pieces that display Roxanne Potvin's sultry voice and eclectic stylings. The guest roster of Daniel Lanois, John Hiatt, Bruce Cockburn and Memphis Horns veteran Wayne Jackson indicates that Potvin is comfortable in styles besides the blues and R&B that characterize, but doesn't monopolize, this album. Terrific, even revelatory covers of Joe Tex's "I Want To (Do Everything for You)" and Freddie King's "Your Love Keeps Working on Me" find Potvin immersed in the soul aspects of the blues, and her own compositions that dominate this set occasionally follow suit. The lovely solo piano ballad "Don't Pay Attention" is clearly aimed at the Norah Jones crowd, as is the waltz time, French-sung "La Merveille." The jazzy "While I Wait for You," which features vibes along with Cockburn's electric guitar and producer Colin Linden's dobro, is another successful musical side road. Potvin shifts into '60s mode with her own "Caught Up," a song that could have been penned by Carole King during her Brill Building days, and a frisky, girl group charged cover of Jackie DeShannon's "Break Away." In other places, the disc shows why Potvin was nominated for a Maple Blues Award as Female Vocalist of the Year and also received a Juno nomination for "Blues Album of the Year." The opening swamp of "A Love That's Simple" sounds like a great lost Stax track (it's an original), and on the gospel-edged "Say It", a cover of a minor hit from the "5" Royales, Potvin references the classic doo wop era. Producer Linden helps tie these diverse strands together, as well as adding various guitars to the mix for a release that should put Potvin on the map as a talented newcomer who refuses to be pigeonholed. ~ Hal Horowitz