May 21, 2024

MARC BROUSSARD – ‘S.O.S. 4: BLUES FOR YOUR SOUL’ – “punchy soul soup flavoured with the blues and topped with guitar croutons”

KEEPING THE BLUES ALIVE RECORDS   3rd March 2023

Here we have a big bunch of punchy soul soup flavoured with the blues and topped with guitar croutons. Marc Broussard has a large soul voice, full of presence and feel, interjecting and ad-libbing as the mood rises. Previously mostly a soul singer, the addition of the blues for this album feels like a natural fit.

There’s a good mix of the new, old and somewhere in between – ‘I’d Rather Drink Muddy Water’ draws from a string of blues songs with the same line (from Jimmie Rodgers to Muddy Waters to The Grateful Dead), while all but one of the other album tracks are covers of classics and slightly less well-known oldies. ‘Cuttin’ In’ is an aching soul ballad (by Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson) that is polished by guitar interjections, like a commentary or backing chorus. ‘That’s What Love Will Make You Do’ is Little Milton’s classic blues burner but perhaps better known for it’s regular appearance in the Jerry Garcia Band’s repertoire. There is variety, and ‘Dreamer’ is a slow achy ballad, theatrical and love-lorn, showcasing Broussard’s expressive skills. ‘Empire State Express’ is a blues that smashes the sound, using that steam locomotive pounding beat to hammer Son House’s song hard. Howlin’ Wolf’s ‘I Asked for Water’ sees JJ Grey step in on gritty duties and some classic swamp blues grind. Or you might go to the opposite end of the spectrum with the closing ‘When Will I Let Her Go’ which, as well as featuring Joe Bonamassa, is almost Philly Soul, complete with strings and female backing chorus. It’s a good mix.

Created with an idea for raising funds to help underprivileged people in the US, the Save Our Soul album series Marc Broussard has been issuing (this is the fourth) sees a significant portion of proceeds donated. Having Bonamassa step in, play on it and release it on his label adds a lot of exposure and power to the release. Produced by Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, this is the way I like to hear Bonnamassa’s distinctive guitar voice, lending itself to strong material on four tracks here. It thoroughly succeeds in taking Broussard’s soul into blues territory, not as a change but as part of the organic linkage between the genres.

The key thing here, though, is THAT voice, big, powerful, expressive, flexible. It’s a joy to hear it bring new strengths to these songs.

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