Tinted Windows to the Soul
At first I thought, "Sweet, a converted blue-eyed souler proclaiming his newfound authenticity." Wrong. Thankfully, Ray B's got his own brand new bag. Vocally, he's drunk deep from the Bill Withers-Pops Staples well-understated (and underrated) . Song-wise, he's kinda Mayfield, kinda old Nashville, kinda Gamble & Huff, kinda his own deal. Probably watched too many Pam Grier movies-but he's right-you can't watch too many of those. There's also this subtle sense of classic reggae percolating in the production. This gives it a much different slant than Sharon Jones/James Hunter/Winehouse recordings. The clever use of horns and MPC loops adds cool neo-soul flourishes. My faves are: Carolee, a very pretty, sympathy-for-a-friend song and Classified, a dense, funky, stonewall to a nosy ex-lover. I was intrigued by the protest song in reverse, Deportation Day, and loved the spooky, visceral Race with the Devil. I could keep going, but suffice to say it's a shining jewel from out of left field. Joe Robbie Luke- The Roots & Funky Numbers.