Over recent years Rod Stewart has veered away from the pop / rock sound that made him famous and his music has become less about topping the charts wearing leopard print leggings, and more about bands, ballads and bow ties.
Being an avid Rod Stewart fan I was looking forward to listening to his latest musical offering - the Soul Book, because I think his husky voice suits soulful tunes, and I've enjoyed all of his American Songbook albums.
The Soul Book begins with the track - It's The Same Old Song - and when you listen to Rod's husky vocals and you really do believe that he means every word he is singing. This track is riddled with emotion and it's a good opener to an album full of classics.
Rod sings alongside Stevie Wonder, Mary J. Blige, Smokey Robinson and Jennifer Hudson on this album and the Rock God can certainly sing with the best. His voice accompanies these soul stars perfectly and my personal favourite is the track he recorded with Mary J. Blige. I think that You Make Me Feel Brand New is an album highlight - as the combination of the two vocals makes the track sound both contemporary and classic. It's almost like Stewart and Blige completely reinvent the song.
Other album highlights include - What Becomes of the Broken Hearted; and Only the Strong Survive. These two songs are very emotive and each husky tone that is shrouded in both truth and honesty. Although the subjects he is singing about are sad, Rod makes these tracks sound very upbeat.
As always, the backing band complements Rod's lyrics perfectly. The band isn't overpowering and at no point do you sense a battle between voice and instrument, but undoubtedly, without the backing band these songs wouldn't be half as effective as they are. The backing singers also display their talent throughout the album and they sound particularly effective within the track - Rainy Night In Georgia.
For me the only let down on this album is the ninth track - Love Train. I don't think that this song fits in with the overall tone of the album and I think that Rod turns this upbeat classic into a very melancholy tune. Personally I don't think this version is half as good as the original, and that is a rare thing for me to say - because I usually think that Rod's covers are amazing and often better than the original.
This album is obviously very personal to Rod. He says: "This is the album I've waited my whole lifetime to record. These are the songs that I've danced to, made love to, cried to and yes, even fell on the floor to as a young man in the infancy of my career. These songs and singers were the oxygen that fueled my passion to sing. When I was a skinny, cocky, all-mouth and trousers teenager living in North London without two pennies to rub together, I discovered the artistry of Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson, James Brown, The Temptations, The Four Tops and so many more. They were my Gods and my heroes." And when you listen to each track on this album, you believe every word.
********* Tracks *******
1) It's The Same Old Song
2) My Cherie Amour Featuring Stevie Wonder
3) You Make Me Feel Brand New Duet with Mary J. Blige
4) (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher
5) Tracks Of My Tears Featuring Smokey Robinson
6) Let It Be Me Duet with Jennifer Hudson
7) Rainy Night In Georgia
8) What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted
9) Love Train
10) You've Really Got A Hold On Me
11) Wonderful World
12) If You Don't Know Me By Now
13) Just My Imagination
14) Only The Strong Survive
15) Never Give You Up
Overall I'd say this album is a must for anybody that is a fan or Rod Stewart or 70's soul music. This is a great compilation of classic songs.
*** Quote source - http://www.shallownation.com
Disc #1 Tracklisting
1 It's The Same Old Song
2 My Cherie Amour Featuring Stevie Wonder
3 You Make Me Feel Brand New Duet with Mary J. Blige
4 (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher
5 Tracks Of My Tears Featuring Smokey Robinson
6 Let It Be Me Duet with Jennifer Hudson
7 Rainy Night In Georgia
8 What Becomes Of The Broken Hearted
9 Love Train
10 You've Really Got A Hold On Me
11 Wonderful World
12 If You Don't Know Me By Now
13 Just My Imagination
14 Only The Strong Survive
15 Never Give You Up