"All That Glitters . . ."


It's a good thing Washington-based R&B vocalist Tonia Woods has a voice capable of conjuring the gritty soul music of the '60s. Otherwise she would sound utterly out of her league performing songs like "Mister Understand," the opening track on her new CD, "All That Glitters . . ."

"I'll make you understand what it takes to be my man," she shouts out over a churning funk groove, her tone so defiant and determined that it sounds as if Woods is almost daring a suitor not to take her seriously. Likewise, an update of the Ann Peebles hit "Can't Stand the Rain" reveals Woods's firm roots in classic soul sounds, the sort that require a singer to display both power and passion. Woods makes it sound easy.

She's closely attuned to more contemporary R&B sounds, too. In fact, "Glitters" boast several songs, co-written with Tony Taylor, that suggest the influence of Anita Baker ("If You Let Me"), Toni Braxton ("Seven Days Seven Nights") and other bestselling divas. Suffice to say Woods wouldn't sound out of place sharing the stage with any of them. Her affection for inspirational themes is evident here as well -- on "Go the Distance," a performance soulfully embroidered by saxophonist Marshall Keys, and on "The Lord's Prayer," a solemn piano ballad rendering that eventually blossoms into a stirring recital. In addition to Keys, Woods is adroitly supported by several area musicians, including bassist Gary Grainger and drummer Greg Grainger.

-- Mike Joyce

Appearing Saturday at Sweet Caroline's. * To hear a free Sound Bite from Tonia Woods, call Post-Haste at 202-334-9000 and press 8129. (Prince William residents, call 703-690-4110.)