Saturday, May 7, 2011

Johnny Rawls "Memphis Still Got Soul"

One Blues Music Award nomination means you made a good song or cd; two BMA nominations means you're good. How good does that make Johnny Rawls? He has received five BMA nominations for his past three releases. After being nominated for the Soul Blues Album of the Year award in 2009 for "Red Cadillac" Rawls won the Soul Blues Album of the Year award for "Ace of Spades" in 2010. I have been listening to Johnny Rawls since 2007s "Heart and Soul" and he just keeps delivering the goods, making good soul-blues every time out.

"Memphis Still Got Soul" may be his best cd yet. The new album features 10 original songs, plus a testifyin' take on "Blind, Crippled and Crazy," a song best known for the version recorded by Rawls' musical mentor, O. V. Wright. Like Rawls' previous releases, "Memphis Still Got Soul" re-creates the soul drenched Stax-Volt sound, and like those great old records the lyrics are true-to-life poetry delivered with sincerity. The playing and singing on this cd is top-notch.

This cd was recorded at two sessions, at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo Texas and at Soul Tree Recording in Helena Montana.
The band at the Texas sessions includes Dan Ferguson on keyboards, Andy Roman on saxophone, and Richie Puga on drums, all alumni of The Rays, a band Rawls discovered in 1999 and subsequently produced for his own Deep South Soul Records label.

Among the many highlights of "Memphis Still Got Soul" are the title track, which salutes the musical heritage of Memphis; the Curtis Mayfield/Impressions feel of "Give You What You Need;" the deep soul sound of "Take You for A Ride;" the autobiographical "My Guitar;" the soon to be live show fan favorite "Blues Woman;" and the funky blues-driven "Burning Bridges."

This is a great release--it should continue Johnny Rawls' string of BMA awards. Winning soul blues. This disc is out now--you can buy it at

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