Thursday, December 13, 2018

Sugaray Rayford: “Somebody Save Me” (2019) CD Review

As certain people become more irritating and horrible, with their racism and their dishonesty and their devotion to the NRA and their complete lack of driving skills, the rest of us turn more and more to music for a taste of humanity. Somebody Save Me, the new album from singer Sugaray Rayford, delivers some really good soul and blues sounds, with a voice that is earnest and human. The material is original, though not written by Rayford. All the songs on this disc were written by Eric Corne, who also produced the album and plays guitar, harmonica and percussion on it. Corne is also founder and president of Forty Below Records, the label that is releasing this album. Also joining Sugaray Rayford on this release are Sasha Smith on keys, Rick Holmstrom on guitar, Eamon Ryland on guitar, Taras Prodaniuk on bass, Matt Tecu on drums, Mark Pender on trumpet, Ron Dziubla on saxophone, and Richard A. Rosenberg on trombone. There are also several guests playing on various tracks.

The disc kicks off with “The Revelator.” This song is bluesy, it is funky, it has soul, and it is seriously cool. There is a strong, prominent bass line to latch onto, to get you moving. I also dig those backing vocals. Eric Corne, Brittany Gael Vaughn, Brittney S. Wheeler, Gabriel M. Newman, J. Blake White and Terika Jefferson provide those backing vocals. And then the horns come in, taking the tune to another level of cool. Ah, this is just what I need. And if all that isn’t enough, this tune also features violin and cello. “No, I ain’t your preacher/No, I ain’t your preacher.” That’s followed by “Time To Get Movin’,” a bluesy rock song with a good groove. Here Sugaray Rayford addresses some of the troubles we’re facing, both from without and within, such as the hatred and social division. “Everything’s not black and white, there are different shades of grey/We need to come together now before it’s all too late/It’s time to get movin’/You’ve got to get behind the wheel.” Rayford belts out the lyrics, and man, he isn’t messing around. He means every word here; his is a voice of honesty and power. There is some great stuff on harmonica too. “It’s about to get real.”

The horns play a delicious role in “You And I,” giving the tune a classic vibe. “When we’re apart, it’s an awful crime.” Oh yes, that’s how I feel about being away from my girlfriend. This one too has a nice groove, and I enjoy what Sasha Smith is doing on organ. Carol Hatchett and Roberta Freeman provide backing vocals on this one. “Everywhere all the people are fighting/I just think of you, and I feel all right/You and I/Hand in hand, and side by side.” Yes, that’s what it’s about. That’s what makes it all right. And in “I’d Kill For You, Honey,” he sings “I’d even kill for you, honey/Baby, would you really do the same for me?” Good question, because if you would, I have a list of people prepared. Now, this is going to involve a trip to Washington, D.C.  I like the rough and wild vocal delivery, and the overall raw vibe of this track. Plus, it contains some more good work on harmonica.

“Sometimes You Get The Bear (And Sometimes The Bear Gets You)” has more of a fun groove. Yeah, I dig that kind of classic rhythm. Then suddenly, like halfway through, the groove changes, with the horns almost giving us a big band feel, while the guitar over it delivers some fantastic blues. It’s a cool section, an unexpected and delightful digression, functioning as a bridge between this world and the next. When the song returns to its original vibe, the next line is “Made it to heaven by the skin of my teeth.” That’s followed by “Somebody Save Me,” the album’s title track, which has a whole lot of soul. This is a wonderful tune, with a passionate vocal performance. “Somebody save me/I can’t make it on my own.” Eric Gorfain plays violin, and Richard Dodd plays cell on this one. It is one of my personal favorites. The CD concludes with “Dark Night Of The Soul,” which has a good blues groove. David Ralicke plays saxophone on this one. “How come you always take more than your share/Best beware, dark night is coming for you.”

CD Track List
  1. The Revelator
  2. Time To Get Movin’
  3. You And I
  4. My Cards Are On The Table
  5. I’d Kill For You, Honey
  6. Angels And Devils
  7. Sometimes You Get The Bear (And Sometimes The Bear Gets You)
  8. Somebody Save Me
  9. Is It Just Me
  10. Dark Night Of The Soul
Somebody Save Me is scheduled to be released on March 1, 2019 on Forty Below Records.

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