Soul in music is as essential as a tempo, and Jackie Shane has more than enough soul to go around for the massive, twenty-five track re-issue of her cult classic Any Other Way. The woman was a visionary in music for her immaculate vocal range and impressive stage performances, but also for being one of the pioneers for transgender artists everywhere. Shane could transform a room into a lightshow of frantic dancing and movement-inducing rock, but then take the sound to a halter and illustrate a true sense of craftsmanship.
From the sudden count off on “Sticks and Stones”, the opening sending anthem from Jackie Shane that is as rambunctious as it is tight musically. The band that jams behind her is smooth, mixed with her impressive voice creates a recipe for perfection. The two entities work together to create instrumental sections of horns that cast large shadows, but never large enough to overpower Shane as she uses her own attitude to fuel the vocal aspect of Any Other Way. It is the sudden jump into the deep end that floods the listener with images of dance halls being grooved to the sound of Shane as she would dress like royalty and deliver a show like no other performer at the time. The rhythm transposes Shane to new heights and through Any Other Way, there is a sense of immense growth throughout the record. It is constantly twisting and turning to become something fresh and interesting at every turn.
The transitions featured on Any Other Way are displays of Shane’s sense of adaptability, as the following self-titled track, “Any Other Way” starts to subtle shuffle into frame, Shane is soft-spoken and acts as a gem in this whirlwind of rainy day sound. The horns are well proclaimed and the percussion takes a step back, letting Shane’s vocals be the centerfold of the track and this is the catalyst for the record to gain its wings and soar. Jackie Shane is such an interesting character both on and off the record, and her mystique is also present in her lyrical style as she explains through sometimes double, or triple-meanings for a glance into her own personal journey.
Her lyrics tell a story, and the instrumentation is so memorable that even after just a single listen, tracks like “In My Tenement”, “Comin’ Down”, “Walking The Dog”, or even “Money (That’s What I Want)”, have incredible catchiness to them. Especially on “In My Tenement” where the grooving instruments are suddenly shining through the darkness of the lyrical themes, but then shifts to showcase a focus on just how Jackie Shane can illustrate a sense of duality in her sound. It can be both depressed, but also full of life and Any Other Way, while being a double album, never shows a sense of acted as too long. The tracks flow well into each other and the new light that is placed on Jackie Shane is well-deserved.
Any Other Way is a delightful showcase of emotional prowess that is transfused into the heart and soul of music. Jackie Shane gives her rhythm a backbone and illustrates a sense of power behind her voice, standing tall among the greats while never casting a large shadow. A cult favorite that shows years after recording Initially, that Jackie Shane can still groove with the heavyweights of music.