R&B wailer Sugar Pie DeSanto will never be too refined. Fifty-one years into her career — at age 70 — she’s still a tiny skyrocket, dancing and singing with sass, brass, and a hint of sandpaper in her throat. That voice quavers a bit now on the high, hard notes, but otherwise these 11 tracks mostly capture the same kind of intensity she generated in early recordings like “In the Basement,” which she cut with her cousin Etta James. DeSanto’s writing isn’t always on par here: “Somebody Scream” boils down to a mindless chant of “party hearty.” But “Life Goes On” simmers with loss and regret, and “I Need To Live Again” rings with the promise of better times to come after a broken love, a lonely guitar echoing the tired soul in her voice. This comeback album isn’t quite the revelation Bettye LaVette’s I’ve Got My Own Hell To Raise was, but it does update the career of a singer who stood at the intersection of blues and popular music and helped inspire a generation to rock and roll.
On the Web:
Sugar Pie DeSanto/Jasman Records: http://www.jasman.com/