Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Honorable Mention: Lee Fields & The Expressions - Faithful Man

Most artists working with old forms struggle to create distinct, great music that doesn’t feel like a shadow of old legends.  This has been especially true of the retro-soul revivalists that have grown innumerable in the last decade and a half.  Rote songwriting, weak production, stiff instrumentation, and insufficiently soulful singing: these are only a few of many problems that have plagued the many increasingly interchangeable revivalists.  Most of these albums felt dated immediately upon release.  Only a few artists such as Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings have really stood out and seemed like they could stand up to their influences.  Until Faithful Man, Lee Fields was firmly on the weaker end of the spectrum, in spite of having put out his first record in 1969.  This album is an unbelievable leap forward for Truth & Soul Records’ flagship artist.  It’s no What’s Going On or Let’s Stay Together, but Fields’ loose concept album about infidelity and a deteriorating relationship could be slotted on a shelf with a bunch of early 70s Atlantic soul records and not look like a pale imitation.  And like the best of those old albums, Faithful Man doesn’t feel old or dated.  It feels timeless, in line with its direct influences but not dragged down by them.

Lee Fields - "Walk on Thru That Door"

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