'Deep in My Soul' Brings Big Daddy Wilson Home
Blues singer Big Daddy Wilson has lived in Germany for decades but returned to the American South of his childhood to record Deep in My Soul.
Deep in My Soul
Big Daddy Wilson
19 April 2019
Big Daddy Wilson is not changing any games with his new album Deep in My Soul. He's not thinking outside of the box, challenging listener expectations, or pushing the envelope. What Big Daddy Wilson is doing with Deep in My Soul is expressively singing his way through a collection of solidly written tunes that are rooted in the blues but branch out a little bit to encompass soul and gospel. And that's more than enough.
Deep in My Soul is a homecoming of sorts for Big Daddy Wilson. Born and raised in North Carolina, Wilson discovered the blues in Germany, while stationed there in the U.S. Army. He subsequently married and stayed in Germany, gradually building a career as a blues singer and performing mostly in Europe. Deep in My Soul brings Big Daddy Wilson back to the American South, specifically to the home studio of Jim Gaines, whose extensive producer/engineer credits include Santana and Huey Lewis and the News. Wilson completed the album at legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama.
The musicians on Deep in My Soul create a foundation that seems just right for Wilson's vocals. Adding fire to the songs is lead guitarist Laura Chavez, whose work lit up albums by the outrageous late singer-songwriter Candye Kane. Chavez, who co-wrote two of the album's songs with Wilson, shines throughout Deep in My Soul.
The album opens with two light R&B songs, the laidback "I Know (She Said)" and the jumpier "Ain't Got No Money". Both are fine, but the third track, "Mississippi Me", is the album's first highlight. Written by Sandy Carroll and keyboard player Mark Narmore, "Mississippi Me" is a soulful ballad that features an evocative invitation: "Let's unwrap our minds / And get tangled up like two honeysuckle vines."
Each of the old school R&B songs on Deep in My Soul fall somewhere on the good-to-nearly-great continuum and bring a nice stylistic diversity, but it is the lineup of blues tunes dominating the second half of the album that leaves the strongest impression. Again, Wilson is coloring inside the lines here. There is nothing too crazy going on, but Big Daddy Wilson brings just the right amount of passion, soul, grit, and heart to these mostly self-written songs. "I'm Walking", "Crazy World", "Redhead Stepchild", and "Voodoo" all give Wilson and guitarist Chavez a chance to dig deep and the results ought to be satisfying to modern blues fans and anyone else with a taste for a little blues now and again.
The album's autobiographical title track, in which "my heart started singing / All the things I was feeling", is Wilson's statement of purpose ("Behind these songs / That I sing every night / Behind these songs / Is the story of my life"). "Deep in My Soul" is in the same lofty class as similar declarations from B.B. King ("That's Why I Sing the Blues") and Buddy Guy ("Damn Right, I Got the Blues"). "The blues will heal you," Wilson notes. "If you let it, let it touch you / Way down, way down in your soul."
Give Deep in My Soul a spin and be healed.