Janiva Magness: Sings John Fogerty/Change In The Weather

Janiva Magness
Sings John Fogerty/Change In The Weather
(Blue Elan)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Covering the rich, iconic John Fogerty songbook isn’t a unique concept. Even Fogerty himself did it in 2013, inviting a diverse batch of likeminded acts such as country singers Brad Paisley and Alan Jackson along with rockers Foo Fighters and My Morning Jacket to take a crack at his catalog, all with his blessing and involvement. Since Miranda Lambert was the lone woman on that set, the field was open for another to interpret Fogerty’s songs from a female point of view.

Enter blues/roots singer Janiva Magness. She has been on a roll of late writing predominately original material and a book. But she nailed Fogerty’s “Long As I Can See The Light” back in 2016 and now returns to tackle a dozen more penned by the ex-Creedence frontman. Where Fogerty’s recent reworked versions stayed close to the originals utilizing different vocalists, Magness and producer David Darling take additional liberties with the material. It’s a logical approach since great songs — and these fit that description — generally lend themselves to revisionist interpretations. 

Magness leans to Fogerty’s politically based tunes, connecting the dots of “Change In The Weather,” “Bad Moon Rising” and “Have You Ever Seen The Rain,” the latter two written in the late ’60s/early ’70s, with the current divisive atmosphere in America and the world. Thankfully, she digs past the hits to unearth relative obscurities like “Déjà Vu (All Over Again),” “Blueboy,” “Don’t You Wish It Was True,” and “A Hundred And Ten In The Shade,” all from Fogerty’s post CCR work.

The singer runs “Someday Never Comes” through a slow, soulful Memphis arrangement that wouldn’t sound out of place on an Ann Peebles album. Taj Mahal joins for a jaunty duet featuring his banjo on “Don’t You Wish It Was True,” (originally tucked away on Fogerty’s 2007 Revival), transforming it into a driving, upbeat Delta country blues. She keeps the rollicking “Fortunate Son” relatively unchanged but takes “Bad Moon Rising” down to the Mississippi swamps with a slide guitar-driven attack highlighting the tune’s ominous warnings.

Magness has the husky pipes to charge through the rockers with a Melissa Etheridge-styled raw edge, but also tones down for a lovely, heartfelt version of the touching “Wrote A Song For Everyone.” She ignores popular fare such as “Proud Mary,” “Centerfield” and “Down On The Corner” to focus on Fogerty’s more socially conscious material although includes “Lodi” and “Looking Out My Back Door” as she identifies with the road-weary aspects reflected in them.

The tendency on covers collections like this is to focus on what’s not included. But Janiva Magness does a terrific job mixing often rejiggered yet recognizable choices with a handful of obscurities for a well-rounded collection that often puts a fresh spin on Fogerty’s compositions while displaying Magness’ powerful voice and well-honed interpretive skills.