Mighty Sam McClain - Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey)

Mighty Sam McClain
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Music legend Mighty Sam McClain titled his latest project Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) with tongue planted firmly in cheek. By my call, at least five of the album’s 14 tracks are thematically religious or inspirational. McClain also enlists divine help to bring a lover back on the jazzy torch ballad “Tears,” and McClain cites God as the heavenly matchmaker on the soul/funk ballad “So Into You.” The crooner asks his Heavenly Father for guidance while reflecting on another lost love on the very good “Missing You.”

Music legend Mighty Sam McClain titled his latest project Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) with tongue planted firmly in cheek. By my call, at least five of the album’s 14 tracks are thematically religious or inspirational. McClain also enlists divine help to bring a lover back on the jazzy torch ballad “Tears,” and McClain cites God as the heavenly matchmaker on the soul/funk ballad “So Into You.” The crooner asks his Heavenly Father for guidance while reflecting on another lost love on the very good “Missing You.”

In a way it shouldn’t be too surprising to find spiritual themes and references in McClain’s spiritual and secular tunes. The 69 year old started singing in his mother’s church at five-years old. McClain came up the old school way by singing on the Chitlin’ Circuit, which is where he refined his vocals. And he spent much of his career as the quintessential hard working and underappreciated artists who had to go overseas to receive the acclaim so richly deserved.

People in Europe and Asia gladly accept the soul music that many on this side of the pond take for granted. On Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) fans will hear the qualities that gave McClain international acclaim: His masculine vocal possesses the clear intonation of a jazz singer on tunes such as “Missing You” and he brings the same funk/rock/gospel sensibility to the inspirational “Can You Feel It” that Edwin Starr brought to “War.”

One thing that gives a sense of irony to the album’s title is that the best work on Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) comes when McClain takes his listeners to church.  In addition to the aforementioned “Can You Feel It,” the record’s best track may very well be “Use Me,” a contemporary R&B influenced cut that is nothing less than a love song to God.  As contemporary R&B scrubs any hint of its connection to gospel music, it becomes far too easy for the mainstream to marginalize legends such as McClain. Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) is a reminder that the best soul music is called “soul” for a reason – it possesses elements of the church house and the roadhouse.

Notable Tracks: Use Me, Missing You, I Wish You Well,

Vocals: 3.5
Lyrics: 3.0
Instrumentation: 3.5
Production: 3.0
SoulTracks call: Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 

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