For those of us coming in new, singer Marc Broussard is the son of guitarist/singer Ted Broussard, with several albums under his own belt, and having popularly charted in the US Adult Top 40.
The fourth in his philanthropic S.O.S album series, Blues For Your Soul sees a portion of the proceeds going to the Keeping the Blues Alive Foundation to support youth rehabilitation through music, and includes a partnership with the non-profit organization Guitars Over Guns, that offers students from the most vulnerable North American communities both musical education and mentorship.
Easing in with a laid back but assured riff is ‘I’ve Got to Use My Imagination’, cowbell keeping the steady beat, organ sizzling gently in the background and horns rising throughout. This being one’s first ever listening to the voice of Marc Broussard; one is suitably impressed – A softly powerful voice; there are inflections of Otis Redding, something of a weary Paul Rogers timbre but with Joe Cocker phrasing. The track may well be an old Gerry Goffin/Barry Goldberg number but the arrangement itself wouldn’t be out of place on an old Free album, and that’s probably due to it featuring Joe Bonamassa.
Nightclub piano tinkling ‘I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water’ wouldn’t out of place on a Robert Cray album, but it would just as easily suit Tony Bennett. The impression two tracks in is that Broussard plays it smooth, yeah smooth but not over slick. As for this being the blues, that’s so broad a church but sure once the guitar solo checks in, prior to it we’re soaking in some soulful jazz.
Kicking in with drumming that keeps this one rolling, there’s heft and an upbeat shuffle to ‘That’s What Love Will Make You Do’, Broussard howling in frustration one minute, querying his emotional quandary in soulful narrative the next. Still torn up, with ‘Cuttin’ In’ we find ourselves down at the bobby socks balladeering end of the blues quarter, then later ‘Empire State Express’ gets us down and dirty in the industrial part of town, one part Howling Wolf, one part Muddy Waters, no ice. ‘I Asked for Water’, featuring JJ Grey fits the same bill, though you might know this old tune by a different name. Keeping the more bluesier end of the record going is ‘Locked Up in Jail (Prison Blues)’, featuring co-producer Josh Smith on guitar, though this one doesn’t really go the full mile.
Dipping between these tracks you’ll find a mindful electric piano, in the manner of Rabbit Bundrick, leading us through the suitably titled ‘Dreamer’, Broussard’s vocal sighs, cries, and actual lines sung drifting in and out most pleasingly. Similarly, ‘Love, The Time Is Now’ is a gentle stroll alongside a southern river, the clouds lifting, on a ballad that takes its own sweet time.
Keeping the beat, sassy tipping its hat to B.B. King and the sounds of New Orleans, Broussard working up a sweat and Bonamassa delivering some killer guitar is ‘Driving Wheel’. ‘I Like to Live the Love’ has a groove that cries late 60s R ’n B and early 70s Philadelphia hit, with a great vocal delivery and equally attentive backing harmonies, and similarly near-sublime is final number
‘When Will I Let Her Go’ – Truth to tell, my first couple of spins of this album, this kind of more early 70s, soulful sophistication is how it sounded overall. It’s not, there’s subtle variety. One is more than impressed how incredibly laidback the playing is throughout while allowing Marc Broussard to emote vocally, with an appealing range that for much of it seemingly forgoes ego.
This is classy. The kind of record you should play end to end to appreciate best. I can see why it wouldn’t be for everyone, but for those who do, that’s their reward.
- Reviewed by Paul H Birch.
- S.O.S. 4 – Blues For your Soul is released via KTBA Records and is available here.
- Official Website
- I’ve Got to Use My Imagination (featuring Joe Bonamassa)
- I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water
- That’s What Love Will Make You Do (featuring Joe Bonamassa)
- Cuttin’ In (featuring Roddie Romero)
- Empire State Express
- Love, The Time Is Now (featuring Bobby Junior)
- I Asked for Water (featuring JJ Grey)
- I Like to Live the Love (featuring Eric Krasno)
- Locked Up in Jail (Prison Blues) (featuring Josh Smith)
- Driving Wheel (featuring Joe Bonamassa)
- When Will I Let Her Go (featuring Joe Bonamassa)