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This is the second review of a Solomon Burke album since his death on 10th October 2010 aged 70. He was one of the finest Soul Singers of them all and one of few who also transcended other genres such as Blues and Country. Contrary to what some people believe he was still recording and releasing albums throught the 90s before the incredibly successful 2002 release "Don't Give Up On Me" which was considered a return.
Solomon Burke collaborated with a huge array of stars in his time over very varied Musical fields and showing the Country Music side of him he released "Nashville" In 2006. Nashville is a collection of some well known country songs reworked with the help of collaborators Dolly Parton, Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Gillian Welch and also Patty Loveless. The album was produced by Buddy Miller and recorded in Music City Studios.
1.) That's how I got to Memphis
This track opens the album with an excellent feel, This is a stripped down version of Tom T Hall's original. Solomon shows off his trademark vocal tone and seamlessly blends Country and Soul. The gentle guitar played by Buddy Miller keeps the emotive quality and this is a very good start to the album which gets you interested to hear more.
2.) Seems Like You're Gonna Take Me Be
This is an excellent perky up tempo country track which you can imagine being played in Country bars in Nashville. This is one of the best tracks on the album musically and shows something different compared to the more laid back moments more akin to the opening track. There's a little Rock feel about this track.
3.) Tomorrow is Forever
This is the first collaboration, It's Dolly Parton up first and despite their combined age of 126 years old they do an excellent job. Vocals are laid back and emotive from Both. The track gets an excellent boost from the very fine Pedal Steel Guitar from Al Perkins which really tops off the vocals and overall feel of the song. Good collaboration.
4.) Ain't Got You
This was originally done by Bruce Springsteen and gets a lovely reworking here with an authorative performance from Solomon Burke. This is one of the Bluegrass moments here and is an excellent moment on the album with some very vibrant instrumentation. Another one I could imagine being played in a bar in Nashville.
5.) Valley Of Tears
This track features Gillian Welch & David Rawlings with backing vocals from Buddy Miller. It's another stripped down ballad with a lovely feel. Welch's, Rawlings and Millers vocals are perfect for the song and really compliment the lead vocals of Solomon Burke. This is a very emotive tale about the end of a relationship.
6.) Honey Where's That Money Gone
This is an excellent track which has a catchy feel. The backing vocals add a mix of Soul and Country to the party with a touch of Gospel. I really like the Guitar in this one as it sounds quite different than your normal Solomon Burke track and works rather well. This track was originally done by Barry Tashian.
7.) Atta Way To Go
This is one of the best moments on the album, Another stripped down moment here with Solomon's tender and expressive vocals shining. This is a cover of Don Williams and is one of the most emotive on the album. I really love the strings and guitar on this one as they really complete the beautiful feel of the song. Amazing stuff.
Up next is this tale about love and money. It opens gently with Solomon's vocals and then the excellent Music comes in. This track is about the value of love and relationships over how wealthy you are financially. An excellent topic for a song and really done very well here. Another fine track.
9.) Up The Mountain
I first heard of this song when I saw Kelly Clarkson @ Hammersmith Apollo in 2008 and she said one of her favourite singers was Patty Griffin, I'd heard of her but not this song. This is a fantastic collaboration between Solomon Burke and Patty Griffin. This is a truly beautiful song which is a nod to Martin Luther King's 1968 "I've Been to the Mountaintop" speech. The way that Griffin and Burke blend together is superb and sounds incredibly natural. Without a doubt this is the best song on the album. Breathtaking.
10.) Does My Ring Burn Your Finger
This starts gently but is soon in full flow and is an excellent track. The instrumentation of the song is excellent and add to that Solomon Burke's Throaty R&B moans you have a very strong track indeed and one that will no doubt be one of the favourites from the album for many listeners. An excellent progression.
11.) Vicious Circle
This track is a lovely country track which starts gently and then develops into a very good ballad about when you can get caught in a vicious circle and not know what to do. This is yet Another track which has some excellent instrumentation which really compliments Solomon Burke's voice well.
12.) We're Gonna Hold You
This is another laid back moment, This time with the excellent addition of Emylou Harris who gives her clear natural tone to the vocals. The original was recorded by George Jones & Tammy Wynette and is considered in Country circles as a classic. Well In My opinion this version surpasses the original. Excellent collaboration.
13.) You're The Kind Of Trouble
This is the penultimate track on the album and is not one of the best, It's not a bad track but I don't rate the vocals from Patty Loveless, She doesn't match up to the other collaborators on the album. The music is vibrant and catchy and Solomon is on form as are the backing choir but this just lacks that quality in Loveless' vocals.
14.) 'Til I Get It Right
This is a heart rending version of the classic Johnny Cash track. You can tell almost instantly the influence of Cash on this one. This is a final track on the album and is probably my second favourite track from the album. Solomon's vocals are certainly amongst his best on the album and the lovely instrumentation really adds to the emotions.
Nashville is a very strong album indeed, Whilst he has recorded better albums there is one thing for sure and that is "Up to the Mountain" is an instant classic. That songs shines above any other from Nashville and that's not a slight on the other songs. I am tempted to award the album five stars but there are a couple of weaker links. Most notably Patty Loveless' vocals on "You're The Kind Of Trouble". This is however a truly excellent album which will go down well in any Solomon Burke fans CD Collection.
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 That's How I Got To Memphis
2 Seems Like You're Gonna Take Me Be
3 Tomorrow Is Forever
4 Ain't Got You
5 Valley Of Tears
6 Honey Where's That Money Gone
7 Atta Way To Go
9 Up The Mountain
10 Does My Ring Burn Your Finger
11 Vicious Circle
12 We're Gonna Hold You
13 You're The Kind Of Trouble
14 'Til I Get It Right