Music

Brilliant Memphis Soulman Don Bryant Says 'You Make Me Feel'

Photo: Lawrence Matthews / Courtesy of Kid Logic Media

Legendary Memphis soulman and songwriter, Don Bryant returns with a vengeance to spread a much-needed message of love. You Make Me Feel is vital soul music for these times.

You Make Me Feel
Don Bryant

Fat Possum

19 June 2020

Don Bryant's third full-length LP You Make Me Feel is one that does just that. Feel the opening salvo of horns and salvation on "Your Love Is to Blame", soul-fired straight-right to the frontal lobe, the first of a one-two opening combination. The Octogenarian is laying down some of the hottest soul and blues on the planet.

That's in part due to piping hot producer and songwriter Scott Bomar who scored the delightful movie Dolemite Is My Name and co-wrote the album opener with Bryant's wife of 50 years, bonafide legend, Ann Peebles in mind. Another part, the backing band featuring members of the ultra-legendary Hi Rhythm section — Howard Grimes, Archie "Hubbie" Turner, and Charles Hodges, who played on hits by Al Green and Ann Peebles — with members of St. Paul and the Broken Bones, the Bo-Keys, Gregg Allman Band, the HamilTones, and the Sensational Barnes Brothers – culminating with the brilliant singing and songwriting of Bryant.

Bryant and Peebles first crossed paths at Hi Records while he was the up and coming label star. As their relationship flourished, so did his songwriting. He penned "99 Pounds" for her, and the rest is history. As he pumped out goodies for Hi, including Mrs. Peebles' smash "I Can't Stand the Rain" in 1973 (where Missy Elliott got the sample for you younger folks), Bryant found an unexpected love of being the hitman behind the scenes. Trading the spotlight for the pen and pad paid off. On this record, "99 Pounds" was reworked into a ravishing stomp and grind, chock full of horns and hearty soul and thus completing the second punch in the aforementioned pugilistic combination, yet just whetting the palate with eyes watered.

One could go on for pages about Bryant's past accomplishments, but quite frankly, the last two records he's put out, both on the Fat Possum imprint, are timeless classics. 2017's Don't Give Up on Love was a flawless effort just one year more than half a century since his debut album Precious Soul in 1969. His story a beautiful tao of patience and real love. Thus "Love" is the foremost theme of most of his music. Perhaps a little more love is what's needed in these present-day travails. Almost fittingly, the record was pushed back due to COVID-19 yet becomes even more poignant a few months later when they finally decided to release it in our current war on ever-present racism. It's poetic in a way how that worked out, polarizing even. Waiting is a virtue in the world of Don Bryant.

Bomar and Bryant teamed up on a handful of songs on You Make Me Feel. Most notable other than the opener are the two penultimate. "A Woman's Touch" feels like sweating in the pew at the gospel of Love, while closer "Walk All Over God's Heaven" takes us to standing on the pews and dancing in the aisles in celebration of the highest. A Sunday mornin' masterpiece that's ethereal and sanctified. We're being bathed in the blood after a guided tour of the inner sanctums of Memphis soul. This is my church. The reworkings of Bryant's earlier material on this record alone should be gospel. Praise Be.

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Music

The Texas Gentlemen Share the Powerful and Soulful "Last Call" (premiere)

Eclectic Texas band, the Texas Gentlemen return with a vibrant, imaginative LP that resists musical boundaries. Hear their latest epic single, "Last Call".

Music

Vincent Cross Pays Tribute to Folk Hero via "King Corcoran" (premiere)

Gangs of New York-era James "The Rooster" Corcoran was described as the terror of New York's east side. His descendent, Vincent Cross, retells his story with a "modern dark fairy tale".

Music

Eddy Lee Ryder Gets Lonely and Defiant with "Expected to Fly" (premiere)

Eddy Lee Ryder explores the loss of friendship and refusal to come of age, cloaked in the deeply dramatic and powerful song, "Expected to Fly".

Playlists

Rock 'n' Roll with Chinese Characteristics: Nirvana Behind the Great Wall

Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.

Film

Creative Disruption in 'Portrait of a Lady on Fire'

Portrait of a Lady on Fire yearns to burn tyrannical gendered tradition to ash and remake it into something collaborative and egalitarian.

Music

Fave Five: The Naked and Famous

Following two members leaving the group in 2018, synthpop mavens the Naked and Famous are down to a duo for the first time ever and discuss the records they turned to help make their aptly-named fourth record, Recover.

Evan Sawdey
Books

Fleetwood Dissects the European Mindset in His Moody, Disturbing Thriller, 'A Young Fair God'

Hugh Fleetwood's difficult though absorbing A Young Fair God offers readers a look into the age-old world views that have established and perpetuated cultural rank and the social attitudes that continue to divide us wherever we may reside in the world.

Music

Art Feynman Creates Refreshing Worldbeat Pop on 'Half Price at 3:30'

On Half Price at 3:30, Art Feynman again proves himself adept at building colorful worlds from unexpected and well-placed aural flourishes.

Music

The Beths Are Sharp As Ever on 'Jump Rope Gazers'

New Zealand power-poppers the Beths return with a sophomore album that makes even the most senior indie-rock acts feel rudimentary by comparison.

Music

Jessie Ware Returns to Form on 'What's Your Pleasure'

On What's Your Pleasure, Jessie Ware returns to where it all began, the dance floor.

Music

The Jayhawks Offer Us Some 'XOXO'

The Jayhawks offer 12-plus songs on XOXO to help listeners who may be alone and scared by reminding us that we are all alone together.

Music

Steve McDonald Remembers the Earliest Days of Redd Kross

Steve McDonald talks about the year that produced the first Redd Kross EP, an early eighth-grade graduation show with a then-unknown Black Flag, and a punk scene that welcomed and defined him.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.