Thursday, August 07, 2008

Eli "Paperboy" Reed and the True Loves

In this crazy internet age, brand new music coming to me from a source other than the screen in front of me is a strange thing indeed. So last week, when I heard a guy playing a Merle Haggard cover with plenty of reverence on John Kennedy's Xfm radio show, I was actually being introduced to an artist that I had never heard of before. On the radio! How old school is that?

It was a good cover. Even better were his own songs, all soulful twang and gutsy yearning vocals. On a show which is usually dominated by spiky young things, he stood out like a sore thumb. So I go and find out a bit more about Eli "Paperboy" Reed and I like what I hear. His recent album Roll With You, made with his band The True Loves, seems to have been praised and panned in equal measure. It's hard to argue with the quality of Eli's voice, but some naysayers have sniped that it's just a pastiche of old soul and that if you want this sort of thing, there's plenty better, older music to be found. But this sort of comment is both totally right, and completely misses the point.

Sure enough, Reed's sound is a complete facsimile of classic Southern Soul, and lyrically he mines every cliche in the genre's book (you only need to hear lines like "I'm down on your knees / begging you please" once to know exactly where he's going), but what's wrong with that? Who says that soul is a sort of museum piece, only to be performed by someone 'authentic'? What we have is a young bloke wowing a new audience with some superb songs, and the fact that on his recent trip to London he was playing trendy venues like the Proud Galleries shows that The Kids are onto him. Surely this is a good thing. A whole new generation of people who wouldn't pick up Otis or Eddie Floyd albums are getting turned onto Memphis sounds by the chap from Boston and his all-singing, all-horn toting band.

The 11 songs on Roll With You certainly don't bring anything musically new, but they do display an ear from a sharp tune, a feel for a proper soul groove and perhaps best of all they showcase a brilliant voice that sounds very much at home in its retro surroundings. It's an album that won't change your life, but for 38 minutes, it's a total blast. That'll do me.

mp3: Eli "Paperboy" Reed and the True Loves - Stake Your Claim
mp3: Eli "Paperboy" Reed and the True Loves - Take My Love With You

Buy Roll With You from Q Division or download from emusic.

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