(Truth and Soul)
US: 2 Jun 2009
UK: 15 Jun 2009
Following on from 2002’s heavy funk detour Problems, Lee Fields returns with another mellow waxing of sweet ‘n’ deep soul ballads that draws the gut bucket singer ever closer to the polished yet gritty delivery of Hi Records artists such as Al Green and Willie Clayton, while helping to distance the veteran soulman from the “Little J.B.” tag that’s dogged him ever since he cut some of his first sides for small labels like Norfolk back in the early ‘70s.
On Fields’s latest album My World, the Expressions, a studio band—initially put together four years ago by Truth and Soul label owners Jeff Silverman and Leon Michels to record a single with Fields (the flipside of which, “Honey Dove”, gets an extended reprise here after first appearing on Problems)—which boasts bassist Thomas Breneck and drummer Homer Steinweiss from the Dap Kings in the line-up, tightly combine contemporary metronomic beats, fluttering strings and punchy horns as a launchpad for Fields to do his thing on eight of the 11 tracks here. The remaining three are instrumentals, with the lazy summer Sunday groove of “Expressions Theme” coming out on top. The album’s highlights all testify to the singer’s apparent lack of luck in love, whether Fields’s Southern gospel-tinged vocals are pleading for his baby to stay (“Do You Love Me (Like You Say You Do)”, pleading for her to stop tipping up-town (“The Only One Loving You”) or, on a beautiful cover of the Supremes’ heartache ballad “My World Is Empty Without You”, cut out the pleading and exercise a man’s right to beg in righteous, gut-wrenching fashion.