Music

Eli Paperboy Reed: Come and Get It

Heatseeking Boston crooner mines 21st century soul on his major-label debut.


Eli "Paperboy" Reed

Come and Get It

Label: Capitol
US Release Date: 2010-08-10
UK Release Date: 2010-05-10
Amazon
iTunes

At 26 years old, Eli "Paperboy" Reed has already walked the path of soul crooners three times his own age. His resume is littered with references to mornings spent sweeping up after Gospel service up in Chicago and evenings spent grinding it out in Juke Joints down in the Mississippi Delta. If this kid told you he got himself around the country hopping train cars, you probably wouldn't raise an eyebrow. Already a minor sensation in his native New England, Reed has garnered international acclaim as of late, due in no small part to his incendiary live show. Backed by a crackerjack eight-piece who go by the handle True Loves, Reed leaves stages in splinters and routinely draws comparisons to Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett. While his fellow soul revivalists over at the Daptone label continue to utilize archaic recording methods, Reed has joined forces with hip-hop producer Mike Elizondo for Come and Get It, his high-resolution major-label debut.

Although Reed is clearly reverent of his genre of choice, his first release for Capitol has more in common with Amy Winehouse than anything that came out of Stax during the '60s and '70s. Come and Get It contains 12 concise, razor-sharp tunes, almost all of which are smothered in Top 40 gloss by the album's producer. Mike Elizondo is known outside of the hit-making crowd he usually collaborates with (Gwen Stefani, Maroon 5) as the producer who took Fiona Apple's Extraordinary Machine away from Jon Brion, stamping the life out of it in the process. By trying to make an album full of vintage sounds palatable to a modern day audience, Elizondo nearly robs Come and Get It of its most essential ingredient: soul.

Though the performances on the album, from the rhythm section on down to the strings and horns, are of the highest caliber, they aren't organically presented. Bass and guitar lack presence while drums are particularly problematic. Elizondo has placed the drums high up in the mix yet compressed them to such a degree that they provide only the flimsiest of backbones. This is an album that should evoke images of a cramped, stifling hot basement full of musicians trying to get a track down to tape before the sun comes up. Instead, when the band tears into the ferocious live staple "Explosion", one can't help but hear the track being pieced together on Pro Tools in some studio out in Burbank.

Reed's infectious songwriting, along with his formidable voice, are what keep this project from sinking under the weight of its lumbering production. Realizing that soul music is supposed to be a universal experience, Reed plays a steady mix of barnburners and ballads and keeps his themes simple. He lays out his mission statement on the title track, when he sings "if you want the love of a man, come and get it." He doesn't offer many new insights on lovin' and squeezin or a kissin' and a pleasin' but he knows his way inside of a catchy chorus, as he proves on the sure to be often quoted "Name Calling". He tips his cap frequently to heroes like Sam Cooke (the thankfully unfussy ballad "Pick your Battles") and Tyrone Davis ("I Found You Out") and pays tribute to late unknown Boston singer Frank Lynch on the leadoff track, "Young Girl". The album climaxes just four songs in with the smoldering "Just Like Me". While the band locks into a nasty groove that should have listeners wrinkling up their noses in approval, Reed closes the track out with a series of orgasmic, Princely shrieks. The excitement level is rarely as high again.

As long as the Paperboy keeps rolling his crew on down the road, unsuspecting audiences should continue be his for the taking. As a recording artist, however, he needs to offer up more than the plastic soul of his major label debut if he wants continue to find his name mentioned in the same breath as the masters of soul.

5

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image