It's a striking commentary on her extraordinary talent that, at age 23, Shemekia Copeland is releasing her third blues album for Alligator Records.

It's a striking commentary on her extraordinary talent that, at age 23, Shemekia Copeland is releasing her third blues album for Alligator Records. Add to this accomplishment the fact that Talking to Strangers was produced by Dr. John, the undisputed master of New Orleans fonk. On Copeland's previous albums, it was clear that this Harlem native's heart was beating in synch with Chicago blues. In collaboration with Dr. John, Copeland reaches beyond her previous groove and embraces a sound that's both funkier and more sophisticated. The good Doctor's influence as producer/pianist/ arranger is significant here, but Talking to Strangers' main lesson is that Copeland is a vocalist who knows few stylistic limitations. The proof doesn't lie in a specific track, but rather in the totality of her splendid performance on all 15 tunes. Copeland shows here that, at 23, she's a true blues diva.—PVV