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CD Reviews  Bonnie Bramlett  I'm Still The Same
  From time to time, a recording is released that is so perfect in its content and execution that the conventional superlatives are unable to describe its music.Bonnie Bramlett’s breathtaking new release, I’m Still The Same, on Koch/Audium Records is such a recording.   Readers, like myself, who remember Delaney and Bonnie from the early seventies, might expect the country oriented, bluegrass influenced music of that time—goodtime music with lots of tambourines and twelve string guitars and sweet harmonies. Those were great times, and the music was dang good. But times have changed and so have I and so have you and despite the title of this CD, so has Bonnie.  Or could it be that we were shortsighted in our assessment of Bonnie Bramlett?
  There are few artists in the industry with a resume as impressive as hers, yet she remains relatively obscure, so this mistake would be justified. This recording is a body of work that deserves to be judged on its own merit.
The eight original songs, of which Bonnie shares literary credit, are so powerful that they actually outshine the classic songs on the album. Songs like Cry Me a River and You Belong To Me actually pale in comparison to Bonnie’s own rendition of Superstar, the song made popular in the seventies by The Carpenters.
  Bonnie’s smoky, sultry voice wraps itself around the lyrics and opens a window into her very soul—a soul that has known laughter and tears, sorrow and joy and is not afraid to voice these emotions.
It is at this point in a review that comparisons are usually made in an effort to describe the sound and style of the singer’s voice. But how can you compare one diva from another? It wouldn’t be fair to compare Bonnie’s vocals on What If to that of the great Carmen McRae, for they are equals in that respect. Nor would it be fair to say that Ruth Brown could perform Made A Believer Out Of Me, or Sure Sign of Something with any more control than Bonnie. Etta James’ powerful voice could do justice to Hurt and Give It Time, but I don’t believe Etta could sing them with any more soul than Bonnie.   This is powerful stuff, folks.  How does one describe music that reaches into the heart and mind and simultaneously soothes the pain and rejoices the spirit?  With reverence, friends, with reverence.

    It is interesting to note that in these times of digital recording, voice filters and synthesizers, Bonnie’s vocals were left intact.  Her rendition of the material is so heartfelt that she tends to push even her magnificent voice to its limits.  Most engineers would have edited these limits in an effort to achieve continuity.  But it’s these moments when Bonnie pushes her voice to its very limits that makes the hair on my arms rise and causes a shiver from the base of my spine.  It’s as if she is saying: Yeah, I can sing, but what I’m telling you in this song goes far beyond words, far beyond the human voice.  So when Bonnie sings: This life is passing by, passing by like the blink of an eye, I can feel the hours, the minutes, the days of our lives swirling about me like so many leaves in an October windstorm.

    Don’t wait for this CD to become as hard to find as Motel Shot, Delaney and Bonnie’s tribute to the music of The Road. This CD is too important, to damned beautiful to miss.  I’ve had this disk in my car for a month now and I’m not in any hurry to replace it. Check out the Bonnie Bramlett Interview [Here] in this edition (February) of SBM and visit her website at  Bonnie has promised us a book, to be released sometime later this year.  Once you’ve read her bio, you’ll certainly want to know more about this incredibly talented woman, as do I.  But you have to look for Bonnie Bramlett.  She’ll be happy to talk to you, to sing for you, to write for you.  But she won’t come looking for you; you have to look for her.  Could you expect anything less from a diva?  :)

Pat Benny 

SBM interview with Bonnie Bramlett by Pat Benny Here


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