Singer/harmonicist Jimmy Hall's Build Your Own Fire is the third in Zoho Music's Roots series, joining Bonnie Bramlett's Roots, Blues, and Jazz and Ike Turner's Risin' With the Blues. These first two releases have been enthusiastically received, encouraging label founder Joachim Becker to expand the scope of his "Latin Music with a New York Vibe. This decision has been a true blessing.
The musical pedigree for Build Your Own Fire is made of 24 karat gold from multiple veins. The principle artist, Jimmy Hall, possesses unquestionable Southern-fried white soul bona fides honed with his years leading the Southern-rock group Wet Willie. Hall is backed by the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Collective, whose nucleus comprised the famous Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section, which helped artists like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, and Johnny Taylor define Southern soul music in the 1960s and 1970s.
The repertoire is of a single and singular composer, the late Eddie Hinton, house lead guitarist for the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section between 1967 and 1971, when he contributed to soul masterpieces like Aretha Franklin's This Girl's in Love with You (Atlantic, 1970) and Boz Scaggs' 1965 eponymous first release on Polydor. Hinton may have been the finest white soul singer, and with evidence like Very Extremely Dangerous (Capricorn, 1978), one can hardly argue.
Jimmy Hall is cut from the same cloth as Hinton, as is his duet partner Delbert McClinton on the hard-driving opener, "I Still Want to be Your Man. On "Salty, perhaps the finest of Hinton's ballads, Kira Small joins Hall for a convincing performance that is reprised later on the disc with the exquisite guitar/lead guitar mix of Greg Martin.
"Poor Old Me sports both Hall's fine harp playing and Martin's sharp slide guitar in a 12-bar juggernaut. "Coming After You is 100% Delta blues, soupy as a Mississippi River backsplash, humid as a Helena, Arkansas night. "Cover Me is another Hinton ballad masterpiece, with Hall singing from his knees while Martin's slide guitar propels the song over Clayton Ivey's electric keyboards. It is really hard to believe that music can get any better than this.
Still Want to Be Your Man; Salty; Here I Am; Poor Old Me; Coming After You; Cover Me; Build Your Own Fire; It
Jimmy Hall: vocals, harmonicas; Clayton Ivey: keyboards; Larry Byrom: guitars; Greg Martin: guitars; David Hood: bass; Jonathan Dees: drums; Delbert McClinton: vocal (1); Kira Small: vocals (2, 12), Bruce Dees: vocal (3).
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