june 2012
beyond the blue

johnny rawlsJOHNNY RAWLS, Soul Survivor-- Over a thumping, pumping, Stax-style horn-infused beat at the beginning of his new album, robust-voiced Johnny Rawls proclaims himself “a soul survivor, the last of a breed.” The Columbia, Mississippi, native may not be exactly, precisely the last but with last year’s acclaimed Memphis Still Got Soul and this year’s followup, he’s at least the best of the last of a breed; a man in whom the spirit of his mentor, the late, great O.V. Wright, remains strong in Rawls’s distinctive approach. Throughout, soul man/survivor Rawls demonstrates how when heart meets conscience, powerful things happen.

tim too slim langfordTIM ‘TOO SLIM’ LANGFORD, Broken Halo-- Those who know Tim “Too Slim” Langford only from his incendiary work with the veteran “Too Slim” and the Taildraggers trio—which has pursued a scorched-earth blues policy over the course of a quarter-century and some 16 long players—won’t exactly be surprised by the depth and power Langford brings to this compelling 11-song (all originals), one-man-band effort called Broken Halo, but the largely austere settings do reveal a more introspective, contemplative (and issues-oriented) side of the artist often obscured by the fury his trio raises.

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