Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Paul Carrack - Soul Shadows

Paul Carrack’s gift for infusing rock songs with soulful vocals dates back to at least 1974, when he led the UK band Ace to the top of the charts with “How Long.” He was also the voice on the early Squeeze hit “Tempted,” fronted Mike And The Mechanics, and has toured with Eric Clapton. On his latest effort Soul Shadows, Carrack proves he’s still at the top of his game as he explores a variety of approaches.

Carrack wrote all but one of these songs, and plays a variety of instruments to back his singing. Orchestral arrangements swell up from time to time, but add too much sweetener to a few of the tracks. “Let Me Love Again,” “That's How I Feel,” and “Share Your Love With Me” are melodic but sound like they could have come from Paul McCartney’s Kisses On The Bottom standards album or one of Rod Stewart’s Great American Songbook efforts.

“Bet Your Life,” a somber tale of the toll gambling takes on a marriage (co-written with Squeeze founder Chris Difford) is much more intriguing. The authentic funk of “Late At Night” provides another highlight, while the defiant “Say What You Mean” builds an irresistible groove reminiscent of vintage Little Feat. “Sweet Soul Legacy,” a tribute to rhythm and blues legends, benefits from an energetic horn arrangement by Pee Wee Ellis. Much of Soul Shadows takes a celebratory attitude toward life, and that comes through especially on the festive blues rock of “Too Good To Be True.”

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