Thursday, October 15, 2015


To my ears, this is exactly what the revived Stax Records label should be putting out. Rateliff rips through a set of classic southern soul, from the horn-fired, punchy opener I Need Never Get Old, the gospel-flavoured (but definitely non-spiritual) S.O.B., to the Otis-country ballad I'd Be Waiting. While the retro feel is there, there's no way you'd mistake any of this for 1965. There's a major loud bottom end, and just enough distortion to make you think about The Black Keys as much as Sam and Dave.

The juxtaposition between vintage and modern is found in every song. The crafty production mixes elements of both into one listening experience. For instance, the guitar on Thank You is rough and untreated, without the pedals and effects that are now a must for most. But it gets painted in echo, while the vocals are left alone, a studio trick only available in recent productions. Old and new are all coming at you at once.

Rateliff's the writer, and has the obvious needed love of all that old Stax stuff, as well as similar folks of that era. As for the vocals, he's no smoothy, but there's a great style on the record that sees him singing two parts through most of the album, in close harmony. He's playing Sam AND Dave.

Rateliff, Leon Bridges, Charles Bradley, all the Daptone Records stuff; this is the best era in soul music since disco nearly wiped it out in the '70's.

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