Personnel: Beverly McClellan (vocals, guitar, piano); Josh Sklair, Billy Vazquez (guitars); Jimmy Pugh (keyboards); Tony Braunagal (drums); Miki Mulvehill Van Tyn (tambourine).
Recording information: House Of Blues Studio, Encino, CA; Stu Stu Studio, Nashville, TN.
Photographers: Marc Norberg; Miki Mulvehill Van Tyn.
After more than a decade of playing in clubs around Ft. Lauderdale and issuing four self-released albums, bluesy rock singer/songwriter Beverly McClellan successfully auditioned for the network TV talent show The Voice and found herself coached by Christina Aguilera, a reflection of such programs' move from discovering talented amateurs to exposing deserving journeymen performers. McClellan did not end up with a major-label record contract, but she did attract a company willing to finance her fifth album, Fear Nothing, and a heavyweight producer in David Z. (Prince, Billy Idol, etc.). He in turn brought in a bunch of session pros including keyboardist Jimmy Pugh and bassist James "Hutch" Hutchinson, while McClellan's new recognition attracted blues singer Keb' Mo' as a collaborator on one song, "Love Will Find a Way Out." The resulting recording reveals her to be a soulful singer with a powerful voice and a style that is reminiscent of such predecessors as Melissa Etheridge and Tina Turner. David Z.'s studio band didn't take long to learn McClellan's songs, not only because of their professionalism, but also because the tunes are written in conventional blues and rock styles. It's not the songwriting or the music that impresses, though both are serviceable; what matters here is the conviction with which this previously minor-league artist sings. The television camera may have delighted in her bohemian look, with the shaved head, colorful tattoos, and piercings, but it's when Beverly McClellan opens her mouth that her real distinctiveness becomes apparent. ~ William Ruhlmann