Black Cloud

Black Cloud

Possessing both a formidable growl and a velvety purr, singer/keyboardist Davina Sowers leads her Vagabonds through a brassy batch of songs on Black Cloud, her group’s first album of all-original material. The Minneapolis-based quintet draws heavily from old-time Dixieland for inspiration, with some ’60-era R&B and pop elements thrown in for good measure. Sowers’ quirky vocals slide easily from blues-mama brazenness (“Black Cloud,” “Start Runnin”) to sweet, sultry retro soul (“Disappears,” “River”) without blurring her distinctive persona. On spooky ‘30s-style cabaret numbers like “Pushpin” and “Let’s Bring It Back,” she sounds like an uncanny (and delightful) fusion of Sophie Tucker and Regina Spektor. Just when she seems lost in the throes of carnal excess, Sowers delivers “Carry Him With You,” a fervent gospel tune complete with simmering church organ. The Vagabonds lend crucial support throughout, with Darren Sterud’s full-throated trombone and Michael Carvale’s agile standup bass turning in some especially tasty solo moments.

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