Pianist/vocalist Marcia Ball's last album, Presumed Innocent (2001), won the W.C. Handy Award for blues album of the year.

Pianist/vocalist Marcia Ball's last album, Presumed Innocent (2001), won the W.C. Handy Award for blues album of the year. Such success is bound to produce heightened expectations for this follow-up. Ball is a consummate pro, however—a killer pianist, a great singer, and a very credible songwriter. For such an artist, success breeds success. So Many Rivers is every bit as powerful as Presumed Innocent while offering an even more sophisticated stylistic palette. Ball's longstanding love of R&B is writ large in this album, as is her affection for what Dr. John calls "New Orleans fonk." Because of this, the feel of her music, from arrangements to vocals to her piano work, has never been more righteous. In 2001, Presumed Innocent was the best album Ball ever released. It's 2003 now, and So Many Rivers is the best album Ball has ever tracked. This could go on for years.—PVV

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