Eli "Paperboy" Reed - Come and Get It

Eli "Paperboy" Reed
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The first thing you think of when you see white, cherub-faced singer/multinstrumentalist Eli "Paperboy" Reed on an R&B concert bill is "you've got to be kidding."  And then you hear him perform.

Born and raised in Boston, Reed gorged himself on his father's 60s R&B records and began learning to play and sing at a young age. By his teen years he was sitting in at blues and soul gigs, first in Boston and then in the Deep South, where he had to earn his chops with veterans who were, no doubt, scratching their heads at the scrappy young singer.  By the time he came back North and moved to Chicago for college, he was ready to bust out.  Three independently released albums into his career, Reed was hailed by Rolling Stone and Mojo magazines as an artist to watch. And his 2009 signing by Capital Records set the stage for his major label release, Come And Get It.

The first thing you think of when you see white, cherub-faced singer/multinstrumentalist Eli "Paperboy" Reed on an R&B concert bill is "you've got to be kidding."  And then you hear him perform.

Born and raised in Boston, Reed gorged himself on his father's 60s R&B records and began learning to play and sing at a young age. By his teen years he was sitting in at blues and soul gigs, first in Boston and then in the Deep South, where he had to earn his chops with veterans who were, no doubt, scratching their heads at the scrappy young singer.  By the time he came back North and moved to Chicago for college, he was ready to bust out.  Three independently released albums into his career, Reed was hailed by Rolling Stone and Mojo magazines as an artist to watch. And his 2009 signing by Capital Records set the stage for his major label release, Come And Get It.

Teaming with hip-hop/pop producer Mike Elizondo (Eminem, Pink, Gwen Stefani), Reed doesn't just touch on classic R&B on Come and Get It, he creates a complete time warp, giving his listeners a virtual travelogue of Detroit, Chicago, Philly and Southern soul, circa 1965.

Filled with Memphis-style horn sections and the kind of rhythm and string sections that sweetened the best early soul ballads, Come And Get It certainly captures the sound of an era.  And Reed matches the arrangements with top notch songwriting that bears the "three chords and the truth" imprint of that simpler musical time. He quickly makes his aim clear with a series of classic-sounding upbeat numbers like the infectious "Young Girl" and "Name Calling," a song that incorporates the lyrical gymnastics of Motown's best ("You went from name calling to calling my name").  The best of them is the disc's title track, an upbeat gem that sounds like it came directly from the Holland-Dozier-Holland songbook -- and Reed sings the hell out of it.  It is one of many cuts that pay homage to Reed's R&B predecessors, from Gary U.S. Bonds ("Tell Me What I Wanna Hear") to Arthur Conley ("I Found You Out").  The disc even includes an ersatz call and response Southern Gospel track ("You Can Run On") and a couple of great Philly-style soul ballads, "Pick a Number" and "Just Like Me" (click here to check out Reed singing the former in concert with Daryl Hall).

While Come and Get It risks coming off as contrived and derivative, the pure joy that Reed and company put into the disc makes it work.  The album is hip enough to be heard in college dorms and legitimate enough to be rocking AARP meetings. Over the past few years, Amy Winehouse and Sharon Jones have opened the door for retro artists like James Hunter, Duffy and Ryan Shaw to enter, but few have busted through with such effervescence and energy as Reed. For both classic R&B purists and folks looking for an out-of-the-ordinary escape, Come And Get It is the perfect title for a disc that is a joy from front to back. Recommended.

By Chris Rizik

 
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