While Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and Charles Bradley have been the artists most closely associated with the resurgence of Motown and soul music, Lee Fields has quietly produced outstanding soul music – not just in the past few years but for 45 years. Like Charles Bradley, Lee Fields’ voice is powerful and dynamic and his performances are lively, entertaining, and spiritual, emulating the Godfather of Soul, James Brown.
However, while Jones and Bradley have focused on stirring, upbeat, soulful tunes, Fields adopts a softer, more mellow approach to tell his stories album. Consequently, on his latest album, Emma Jean, which is named after his late mother, Fields has reunited once again with The Expressions to put together a personal, touching album. It is an album that sees Fields extending himself to other genres, but at the same time it retains the soul and Fields’ positive messages of love, taking chances, and making the most of every opportunity in every song.
With its soul undertones, the ambient “oohs”, and its theme of persistence, “Just Can’t Win” is a great opener to the album. “Magnolia” is a gorgeous love song that is more of a southern rock ballad than a soul song, and something one would find on My Morning Jacket’s early albums. “Eye to Eye” is another love song that is more reminiscent of the soul of the ’60s. Songs like “Paralzyed” and “Standing by Your Side”are groovy, midtempo, classic soul numbers.
For most of the album, Fields’ voice does not rise about the music; instead, it harmoniously combines with the music. However, on “In the Woods”, Fields’ voice is showcased, as he calls out for help in seeking redemption. “Talk to Somebody” is another song that highlights Fields’ vocal talent, and it’s a song similar to what Charles Bradley has produced – rising choruses, funky grooves, and titillating horns.
On the finale, “Don’t Leave Me This Way”, Fields beckons a love one to come back and to reconcile. It could also be a calling to new and old fans that the 63-year old North Carolina native has much more left to offer and many things to sing about. With Emma Jean, Fields has given us eleven memorable songs that will endear fans to his side and not leave the side of the soul singer.
Website – http://leefieldsandtheexpressions.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/leefieldsandtheexpressions
Twitter – @LeeFields12
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