Danielia Cotton, Rare Child (Adrenaline Records, 2008)

Hopewell, New Jersey native Danielia Cotton was something of a rare child even when growing up. For whatever reason, black girls listening to bands like Led Zeppelin and AC/DC just aren't all that common. Cotton was also raised on the jazz and gospel that her mother sang, so when she started singing herself, mixing styles came naturally. Eventually she started singing professionally, and Rare Child is her second album.

Rare Child combines R&B and soul with muscular hard rock. Cotton channels Mavis Staples and Janis Joplin with equal enthusiasm, and while she plays primarily acoustic guitar herself, the rests of her band plugs in and cranks it up. The album has two real standout tracks. The first is the single "Bang My Drum," an anthemic rocker about being independent and true to yourself. The other is the title track. Like "Bang My Drum," "Rare Child" is a celebration of free spirits, although musically it is much more aggressive. The crunchy guitar on that song makes for some of the best pure rock I've heard in a while.

While those two songs dominate the record, the rest of Rare Child is at least decent. I'm a bit worried, though, that Danielia Cotton will suffer a similar fate that the stylistically similar Roachford has faced for the past twenty years, in that she doesn't fit comfortably enough into any specific radio format and as a result won't get airplay. This would be a shame, as Cotton is a solid rocker with a great voice, and she appears to have much to offer.

Overall grade: A-

reviewed by Scott

"Bang My Drum"

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