BootLeg Betty

Review: Shayna Steele, Bette’s Background Vocalist, Releases New CD, Rise

Elmore Magazine
Shayna Steele – Rise
Album Reviews | March 18th, 2015
Artist: Shayna Steele
Album: Rise
Label: Ropeadope Records
Release Date: 01/20/2015

3-18-2015 9-41-43 AM

While listening to Shayna Steele’s Rise, it’s hard to believe the same vocalist is singing on each track. Her range is outstanding: from the airy, effortless quality on “Sunshine Girl” to the low and sultry tone in “Gone Under,” Steele’s voice (and all of its facets) demands to be heard.

Her career has been particularly fascinating. After performing in three Broadway musicals and serving as a background singer for artists including Bette Midler and Rihanna, Steele is now releasing her second collection under her own name. She co-wrote more than half of the tracks along her husband, David Cook, who provides his impeccable technique on piano as well.

Steele’s theatricality peeks through in almost every track. Her soulful emotion dominates in “Gone Under,” in which she shamelessly “drowns [her] sorrows and burdens away.” Her precise runs are almost overwhelming in “Wear Me Down,” and the musicians help her drive it home by the album’s end.

Steele continues to flaunt her versatility on her cover of Fiona Apple’s “Paper Bag,” which doesn’t necessarily fit into the genre of the rest of the songs, but is smooth and thrilling to hear nonetheless.

One of the highlights is “Coulda Had Me,” which starts out with simple instrumentation, then explodes with full-on brass. A humble melody turns into an empowering anthem, and Steele shines in every corner.

There’s so much to be said for the musicians on this album, who seemed to pour just as much passion as Steele into each recording. Andy Snitzer rocks out on the alto sax in “Everybody’s Crying Mercy,” giving the song a jaunty punctuation mark to Steele’s sharp vocals.

Steele’s confidence and showmanship are commendable, and proves through this collection of catchy, spirited songs, it’s only a matter of time before she fully rises.

– Rachel Weiss

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