Billy Price - The Reckoning (2018)

Billy Price
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Billy Price – Reckoning

Billy Price has been grinding in this music business for a long time. He’s released 16 studio albums -  including his latest Reckoning - in a recording and performing career that began in the 1970s. The rollicking “39 Steps,” the very good lead single from Reckoning, served as a reminder that Price’s transition from industry veteran to soul-survivor continues apace.

Billy Price – Reckoning

Billy Price has been grinding in this music business for a long time. He’s released 16 studio albums -  including his latest Reckoning - in a recording and performing career that began in the 1970s. The rollicking “39 Steps,” the very good lead single from Reckoning, served as a reminder that Price’s transition from industry veteran to soul-survivor continues apace.

Price notes that his keyboardist Jimmy Britton wrote the song, and the singer gravitated to the cut immediately. The tune finds Price counting the number of footsteps it took for him to put a bad relationship in the rear-view mirror of his Crown Victoria. Price told American Blues Scene magazine that he not only gave Britton props for writing a great song but added that the allusion to Alfred Hitchcock’s 1935 movie “The 39 Steps” was way too cool. The blank look on Britton’s face was a dead giveaway that any connection between the song’s title, Hitchcock’s movie or the 1915 novel from which the film was adapted was entirely coincidental.

In the here and now, “39 Steps” is an example that the tenor we last heard in 2015 when he collaborated with late, great Otis Clay on the excellent album This Time For Real, is more than up to carrying the vocal load by himself. The mid-tempo southern soul/funk cut “One and One” finds Price and his band falling into a smooth groove on a cut that finds him working to convince the object of his desire that they have so much more to offer as a couple than trying to make it alone.

Reckoning includes several high-quality covers, from the foreboding bass line and horns that propel the title track, to longing that Price endows into the vocal on a faithfully rendered cover of “I Love You More Words Can Say,” a cut made famous by the great Otis Redding. The jangling guitars seem to be having a musical conversation to go along with conversational, yet urgent vocal delivery Price uses on “Get Your Lie Straight,” a cut associated with Denise LaSalle.

 The last time that we heard from Price was also the final time Clay would bless us with new material. That collaboration turned out to be a classic as This Time For Real in 2015 won Best Blues-Soul Album at the Blues Music Award in May 2016 – five months after Clay became one of the many music legends to leave us that year. Reckoning reveals Price as an artist who can stand and star alone when circumstances call on him to roll solo. Strongly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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