While a lot of young men with acoustic guitars were getting a lot more attention as new-generation blues standouts, Shemekia Copeland was belting her way forward as the best new female act to come along in the field in years. With this new album, as the title suggests, she takes a sidestep away from hard blues into traditional soul. The disc is produced by Steve Cropper, no less; Chuck Leavell and Felix Cavaliere join Cropper in the band, as do the Muscle Shoals Horns, as tight and brassy as you'd hope. Shemekia proves quite at ease and at home with the knowing, no-nonsense stance of the soul woman. She only rarely indulges in the currently familiar abuse of long-held notes in lyrics that would be better bitten off, and I'd wager that tendency won't last song. Just when you start to worry she's going to belt all these soul tunes -- new, contemporary songs by the way -- she proves her smarts once again with timely, controlled excursions into ballads including a duet with the redoubtable Dobie Gray.