Johnny Rawls - Memphis Still Got Soul (2011)

Johnny Rawls

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Southern soul music finds itself in an ironic situation. The sub-genre, a hybrid of the blues and soul music, is often ignored by younger listeners because it sounds ‘old fashioned.' Vocalists like Johnny Rawls definitely don't have that American Idol sound, and singers like Rawls also have to deal with the perception that Southern soul music is elementary lyrically and limited from a thematic standpoint. Rawls and other members of the Southern soul artists have to find such criticism ironic.   The topics that Rawls addresses in his new CD Memphis Still Got Soul are the same ones hit by contemporary R&B and hip hop artists. But most song of the contemporary genres don't have nearly as much, well - soul.

Southern soul music finds itself in an ironic situation. The sub-genre, a hybrid of the blues and soul music, is often ignored by younger listeners because it sounds ‘old fashioned.' Vocalists like Johnny Rawls definitely don't have that American Idol sound, and singers like Rawls also have to deal with the perception that Southern soul music is elementary lyrically and limited from a thematic standpoint. Rawls and other members of the Southern soul artists have to find such criticism ironic.   The topics that Rawls addresses in his new CD Memphis Still Got Soul are the same ones hit by contemporary R&B and hip hop artists. But most song of the contemporary genres don't have nearly as much, well - soul.

Memphis Still Got Soul is filled with what the sound that made Motown's earthier, grittier Southern cousin. The CD is filled with thumping bass lines, funky horns and some deft guitar work done by Rawls and guests like Johnny McGee. McGhee was a Motown studio musician who also backed up Jeffrey Osborne with LTD. The songs on Memphis Still Got Soul carry on the Southern soul tradition of good story telling.  The stories are told by Rawls in that familiar raspy, throaty tenor that conjures up the smell of catfish, whisky and good times.

Rawls covers the range of emotion on Memphis Still Got Soul. He takes on the persona of the tail draggin' lover man on songs like "Give You What You Need" and "Take You For a Ride." On the flip side, Rawls dispenses hard truths about a lying man in the funky "Burning Bridges." This song contains one of those signature keeper lines that Southern soul fans love: he was always good at bending the truth/it was so damn hard to pin him down/you believed he'd stick around/but you'll never wear a wedding gown." That's real talking right there, and it's that realism and true emotion that endears fans to Southern soul artists like Rawls

Notable tracks: Blind Crippled and Crazy, Stop the Rain, Love Stuff

Vocals: 3.0
Lyrics: 3.0
Music: 3.5
Production: 3.0
Soultracks Call: Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 
Choice Cut - Will Preston - "Never Knew Love"
Song of the Month - Tatianna Mott - "Come Home"

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