By Scott Cunningham // Catch her Monday night in Lake Oswego
Given all the changes Janiva Magness has been through lately, you might expect her latest album to be on the blue side of bluesy.
Instead, Love Wins Again is a magnificent celebration of life and the greatest love of all: Loving yourself and your own life. She will playing the Lake Theater & Cafe in Lake Oswego Monday evening.
"Everything changes, we hope. Sometimes it's better and sometimes it's more uncomfortable," Magness says.
And, as of late, life has definitely been changing for the better. Love Wins Again is the finest work of her career so far and currently sits atop the Roots Music Report as the number one album. Not only that, the album has eight songs in the Top Fifty, three in the Top Ten.
Blues music is packed with emotion, but somehow Magness kicks it up a notch on the album, especially on the title track, co-written with Dave Darling and Carl Sealove.
"Dave came up with the music for the most part and he sent me the track with no lyrical content at all," she says. "As I listened to the music, I kept hearing the phrase love wins again, so that was the first line of the lyric content."
Ain't no wrong way about it
Honey it's plain to see
We never need to doubt it
Love wins again
Sorrows all the way over
Baby I guarantee
We're walking in four leaf clovers
Love wins again
"I was very happy with (love winning) as a story because it is a much more powerful force than all the darkness humanity seems to be able to muster. It's easy to forget how formidable love is in all its manifestations, when you're frigtened, when your scared, when you're lonely or when you're angry. We all, myself included, need that reminder," she told me.
Magness is fond of quotes and one of her favorites is from Winston Churchill, who said, "When you're going through hell, keep moving."
Her personal hell was self doubt, a lingering toxicity fueled by early trauma that manifested itself as constant inner conflict. An inner voice that kept telling her she was never good enough.
"It was just self doubt. Those two words seem so small compared to the experience of it," she says. "I had an absolute hard wire (im my head) of 'Who do you think you are?' and 'You can't do that.'"
A lot of people would find it ironic that it was this inner voice driving her all these years. She describes it as a "weird, obessive, driving push" that propelled her along. It simultaneously pushed her toward perfection in music and ate away at her internally much like a disease.
Like many who have some rough bumps in their backgrounds, it took Magness most of her life to start to understand this internal conflict.
"I still don't quite get it all, but I've got a better idea what it was now."
Her saving grace? You guessed it: Love.
And not just any love, the love that allows you to authentically connect with yourself and others.
"The point is the connection. The point is, no matter what our experience, it turns out there's somebody else out there that's had something similar or something the same or something more. It turns out we are not alone. I was sure I was alone and it turns out I was wrong."
Love Wins Again is her victory cry.
ON TOUR: Janiva Magness appears Monday night April 18 at the Lake Theater & Cafe in Lake Oswego, 106 N State St, 97034. Show time is 7PM and tickets are still available.