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Late-Night Noir Meets a 'Cold Blooded' Funk Groove

Shivaree frontwoman Ambrosia Parsley has a voice that works wonders against the quivering mix of Southern gothic and late-night noir that her band typically plays. It's an instrument of curled smoke, dark alleyways and a languorous haze, and certainly not what anyone would expect to find slapped over the slam-funk of a Rick James song.

On "Cold Blooded," from Shivaree's new covers album Tainted Love, Parsley has other ideas. Harder and more guitar-heavy than James' original, the song manages to hit a deep funk groove in spite of its near-complete lack of syncopation. Both the skeletal verse and the more propulsive chorus operate on a simple 1-2-3-4 backbone with minimal activity in the gaps.

But Shivaree has clearly absorbed one of the most important teachings of James Brown and George Clinton, because the band hits that 1 every time, and hard. When it comes around, there's no mistaking it. Into that backdrop steps Parsley, pitting her voice against the song's clinical beat and becoming as icily reptilian as the person against whom she's railing, even as she falls prey to his seduction.

Listen to yesterday's 'Song of the Day.'

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Marc Hirsh
Marc Hirsh lives in the Boston area, where he indulges in the magic trinity of improv comedy, competitive adult four square and music journalism. He has won trophies for one of these, but refuses to say which.