Steve Wallace - As Muddy Wallace Jr. - Justified

Steve Wallace

Steve Wallace (As Muddy Wallace Jr.) - Justified.jpg

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The blues, for many people in Steve Wallace’s generation, could not be any less relevant. And no matter how much us old folk try to tell the kids that the DNA of the blues courses through the blood of the R&B and hip-hop that they love so much, it’s hard to convince them to give their ‘grandparents’ music’ more than a cursory listen. So Wallace, the impresario of urban soul, had his work cut out for him when he cut his latest album, Justified (A Good Ole Fella). The last thing we heard from Wallace was the shamefully underappreciated Urban Soul. Of course, Urban Soul proved that Wallace likes taking on seemingly impossible musical missions. That 2009 concept album fused hip-hop with a high quality lyrical and melodic brand of R&B.

The blues, for many people in Steve Wallace’s generation, could not be any less relevant. And no matter how much us old folk try to tell the kids that the DNA of the blues courses through the blood of the R&B and hip-hop that they love so much, it’s hard to convince them to give their ‘grandparents’ music’ more than a cursory listen. So Wallace, the impresario of urban soul, had his work cut out for him when he cut his latest album, Justified (A Good Ole Fella). The last thing we heard from Wallace was the shamefully underappreciated Urban Soul. Of course, Urban Soul proved that Wallace likes taking on seemingly impossible musical missions. That 2009 concept album fused hip-hop with a high quality lyrical and melodic brand of R&B.

On Justified, ‘Muddy’ Wallace aims to link the down home lyrical and topical sensibility of Chicago style blues with modern R&B production values. That Wallace pulls this project off so easily speaks volumes about his understanding and respect for the music of his grandparents and that of his peers. Yes, those are programmed drums that the listener hears throughout Justified. And yes, the twangy guitars that listeners hear on tunes like the delightful duet "Whatca Gonna Do" are real. So is the blues harp that opens up the ultra funky "Drug Store Woman." Justified’s most impressive aspect clearly is Wallace’s uncompromising lyricism. Lyricists didn’t just start talking about bling, low down women, welching men and living life on the edge during the hip-hop era. Those topics have long been the topical currency of the blues, and Wallace resisted the temptation to ‘modernize’ the lyrics in order to make them more appealing to the youth market. The album stays on that Illinois Central rail line that connects the South Side to the Mississippi Delta and the voodoo lands of New Orleans. Google the titles, and you’ll realize every track on Justified is an original. ‘Muddy' Wallace did his homework, and he gets an A.

Notable tracks: Wheel of Fortune, You Only Live Once, Whacha Gonna Do, Drug Store Woman, Good Girl, Cashmere

 
Vocals: 3.0
Lyrics: 4.0
Music: 4.0
Instrumentation: 4.0
Soultracks call: Highly Recommended
 
By Howard Dukes
 
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