Jeff Bradshaw’s recently released album Stronger is a sparkling example of what happens when a talented artist draws a group of equally talented musicians and singers into his orbit.
Stronger’s 16 tracks feature both originals and Bradshaw and friends’ distinctive take on tunes that have become a part of the soul music canon. Some of those cover tunes like “Prototype” are recent entries into that canon while others like “Nights Over Egypt” and Stevie Wonder’s magisterial “Superwoman” have been key entries in the soundtrack of our lives for all or part of five decades.
“Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” was a track on Wonder’s Music of My Mind album, the first album recorded in what became rightly known as Wonder’s ‘classic period,’ and “Superwoman (Where Were You When I Needed You)” is emblematic of Wonder’s next level thinking. The cut is one song in two distinct movements – each stylistically and topically different – and it’s easy for listeners to believe they are hearing two different tunes.
Bradshaw treats them as two different tunes on Stronger, titling them “Superwoman 1 (feat. Glenn Lewis)” and “Superwoman 2 (feat. Frank McComb). McComb wraps his classic baritone vocal around “Where Were You When I Needed You,” featured in this First Listen. It would be hyperbolic (and wrong) to say that Bradshaw and company improved upon the Stevie Wonder version. Still, Bradshaw gives a master class on how to treat and transform even the most classic of songs.
Bradshaw and McComb sprinkle their version with elements of jazz – both through the deft improvisations and through McCombs impeccable vocal phrasing – that also draw in church influences. The backing vocals sport tight harmonies and have that sound of 1990s era R&B. It’s just a great rendition as Bradshaw rises to the challenge of interpreting this class track. Check it out here.
By Howard Dukes
Jeff Bradshaw feat. Frank McComb