All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

153

Mighty Sam McClain: Blues for the Soul

Ed Kopp By

Sign in to view read count
Mighty Sam McClain has come a mighty long way since his homeless days in New Orleans. Today McClain is reborn both professionally and spiritually, and widely acclaimed for his authentic Southern soul. A terrific singer, McClain has also come into his own as a songwriter. Blues for the Soul may be McClain’s best album yet — to me, it's the best since his comeback release Give it Up to Love (1993).

McClain is a deep-soul singer in the tradition of Bobby "Blue" Bland and Otis Redding. You’ll find a motherlode of soul on his latest biscuit. Blues, R&B and gospel fuse easily on the album, which contains 12 original songs elevated by Sam's earnest vocals, a flaming four-piece horn section, and Bruce Katz’s pumping piano.

One big difference between this recording and some of McClain’s past albums is that many of the songs here are up-tempo and even danceable. McClain’s vocals are as heartfelt as ever, but he adds some growly wailing to the mix, particularly on rousing climaxes to "Going Back to New Orleans" and the irresistible "Sing Me Some Blues." The horn section is more prominent, with crisp, intricate arrangements by trumpeter Walter Platt. And ace pianist Katz (ex of Ronnie Earl and The Broadcasters) is given plenty of space to work his magic.

The usual McClain themes of love and religion dominate. A born-again Christian, McClain gets overly preachy on "Jesus Got the Blues," an emotive slow-blues number that’s saved by Katz’s soulful piano work. More successful is "Not I," a rollicking gospel number. Of the secular tunes, the best are the pulsing "Dark Side of the Street," the funky "Going Back to New Orleans," and "Sing Me Some Blues," a jazzed-up shuffle that’s arguably the best song on the CD.

Mighty Sam McClain lives up to his nickname here — his vocals are intense, and the horn-based band is excellent. Highly recommended.


Title: Blues for the Soul | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Telarc Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read In the Wake CD/LP/Track Review
In the Wake
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: May 28, 2018
Read Nomadic Treasures CD/LP/Track Review
Nomadic Treasures
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 28, 2018
Read Choices and Melodies CD/LP/Track Review
Choices and Melodies
by John Eyles
Published: May 28, 2018
Read Palmares Fantasy CD/LP/Track Review
Palmares Fantasy
by Chris May
Published: May 28, 2018
Read Life Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Life Stories
by Jerome Wilson
Published: May 28, 2018
Read Dawn CD/LP/Track Review
Dawn
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: May 27, 2018
Read "Après" CD/LP/Track Review Après
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: August 29, 2017
Read "Color Tones" CD/LP/Track Review Color Tones
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 2, 2017
Read "Parting Is" CD/LP/Track Review Parting Is
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 14, 2018
Read "The Way of It" CD/LP/Track Review The Way of It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Graviton" CD/LP/Track Review Graviton
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 8, 2017
Read "Frames & Terrains" CD/LP/Track Review Frames & Terrains
by John Sharpe
Published: March 25, 2018