The National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, otherwise known as NARAS, gives out the Grammy Awards each year for the best in recorded music and spoken word. While almost all winners are signed to one of the major labels, every now and then The Academy stands up and takes notice of indie artists or shines the spotlight on a legend making a comeback.
The trend began in 2012, when Linda Chorney became the first truly independent artist to secure a Grammy nomination in the Americana category. Although she did not win, she did open the door for others like Omar Akram, an independent new age artist who won the Grammy for best new age album in 2013.
This year The Academy has shined its spotlight near and far, resulting in quite a few nominations of artists who are previously unknown or obscure, and at least one more indie artist. Although she is signed to Blue Élan Records, a major independent label based out of Los Angeles that is also home to such legends as Gerry Beckley of America and Eagles songwriter Jack Tempchin, Janiva Magness is a relatively unknown indie artist whose music demands attention.
Believe it or not, Love Wins Again is the 12th album Magness has released in her career, and the fifth time she has worked with producer Dave Darling, who has personally garnered four Grammy nominations for his work with such artists as Glen Campbell, Brian Setzer, John Waite and the Stray Cats.
From the first notes of the title cut, Magness shatters the barriers between genres and unleashes an album that must be sonically experienced, with a healthy heaping of indie rock, soul, jazz, gospel and funk to sweeten the overall blues feel.
The album progresses with a stop on the Soul Train vibe of “Real Slow,” before kicking it singer-songwriter/ indie rock style on “When you Hold Me,” which just happens to be one of our favorite cuts. The album continues with a gospel, soul feel on “Say You Will” before the almost Americana/indie rock feel of “Doorway.” Magness kicks in with her full blues regiment on “Moth to a Flame” and “Your House is Burnin'” before dialing it back down with “Just Another Lesson,” “Rain Down,” and “Long as I can see the Light.” She closes out with the moving ballad “Who Will Come for Me,” to which we state the obvious – your fans.
Magness is a true artist who has mastered the art of bringing a message that transcends musical genres and ties an album together. She definitely has our vote for Grammy and for providing one of the best albums of 2016, indie or otherwise. We can hardly wait to see what’s next.