Boz Scaggs - Memphis

Veteran crooner displaying formidable soul chops

Though a regular fixture on the
touring circuit, both with his
own band and in the company
of Donald Fagen and Michael
McDonald as The Dukes Of
September, Scaggs has been
an infrequent visitor to the
recording studio, this being
only his third release over the
last decade. That’s a pity,
because the world needs more
albums as sublime and as
sophisticated as Memphis.

Named because it was
recorded at the late producer
Willie Mitchell’s legendary
Royal Studios in the city,
there’s more than a hint of the
sweet soul grooves that
Mitchell fashioned for Al Green
in the early 70s. They’re most
evident on the opening Gone
Baby Gone and the delicate
Can I Change My Mind?, where
Scaggs’ warm vocal drawl is
beautifully underpinned by Ray
Parker Jr’s guitar and,
especially, Spooner Oldham’s
comforting blankets of
Hammond organ.

Whereas Scaggs’ last
album, 2008’s Speak Low,
took its lead from the jazz hues
of Chet Baker, Duke Ellington
and Gil Evans, Memphis is
a masterclass in slowburning
soul. A by-the-book cover of
the arguably too familiar Rainy
Night In Georgia aside, this is
an engaging and enticing set of
tunes breathing fresh life into a
bygone form; they’ll melt your
heart while making you want to
dance.  

4 stars 4 stars 4 stars 4 stars

429/Fontana International | tbc

Reviewed by Terry Staunton
<< Back to Issue 413

You might also like: