Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Solomon Burke - Nothing's Impossible - 2010 - Ear Music

One cannot look at, nor listen to, this album without feeling incredibly sad. Incredibly sad, yet heart-warmed that this special album actually happened. We have, in 2010, lost two of the all-time greats: Willie Mitchell and now Solomon Burke. This album is remarkable in that after 35 years of trying, the two legends finally made it into the studio together to craft a beautiful album of southern soul that only Willie could produce, and Solomon could deliver. Recorded between 2008 and 2010, this album will appeal to anyone who loves either gentleman and if the style of Al Green's latest set - or Even Anthony Hamilton, come to that - is to your taste then you will equally love this. One o the strongest, most emotive cuts on offer here is the opening song, "Oh What A Feeling". It's slow, lazy, southern style is peppered with unhurried live drums, understated real strings and a thoughtful, bluesy guitar. Solomon at 70 is - was - as powerful and remarkable now as he was back in the early - mid 1960s and one can hear a lifetime of experience mingled in with that vocal swagger. This is the stuff of legend.

I would recommend the gorgeously string-laden "Dreams" as your next port of call. Mitchell is definitely at home on this sort of material, and restrained but passionate and insightful, Burke ministers over this groove. The horn section and organ take us way back to the early 70s and stylistically remains an aspect of timelessness. Credit, then, to these two giants of music and all those including Willie's sons who have tirelessly and meticulously learned what we may call the pre-tool production style to a tee. The title of the set, "Nothing's Impossible" allows Solomon some real room to expand and soar his voice uplifted by stirring strings and raw, edgy horns. A song that really grabbed my heartstrings is "You Needed Me"...this version of the old Anne Murray song penned by Randy Goodrum in1978 is really stripped down and given the Royal Studios treatment. We could almost forgive ourselves for re-imagining this as a brand new song and not an interpretation.

From Burke's own hand comes the traditional Mitchell uptempo number "You're Not Alone", and a fine piece to lift the spirits it is too. the horns get you every time, don't they?! The bitter taste of when a lover has moved on is tackled sensitively with "New Company" and again smacks of the traditional sound we all know and love. Now, I believe this to be the last works of either gentlemen, and as I said at the outset this is both very sad, but also very joyous. Willie Mitchell and Solomon Burke are a match made in musical heaven - a place I am sure they very much are now - and amazing that we have waited until the second decade of the 21st Century top receive the combined efforts of these towering talents. The crack is that both gentleman have remained true to themselves and what we have here is nothing short of what we could ever have hoped to have expected. Smouldering, raw and edgy ballads, horn-filled dancers and more pleading testifying than you will get outside any Southern Pulpit. A fitting and timeless tribute to both of these amazing, much loved, and now deeply missed gentlemen. An essential release.

Barry Towler
The Vibe Scribe