Don Bryant, “You Make Me Feel” (Fat Possum Records)
Don Bryant’s 2nd nonreligious album in decades resembles a lost Memphis soul treasure.
Everything on “You Make Me Feel,” from the tunes to the noises to Bryant’s still-astonishing voice, verifies that his 2017 resurgence, “Don’t Give Up On Love,” was no fluke.
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Bryant, whose early singing days at Hello Records slowly changed into a songwriting profession, helped produce hits like “I Can’t Stand the Rain” for his wife, Ann Peebles, while also supplying tunes for Otis Clay and others.
Still an impassioned and persuading vocalist as he approaches 80, Bryant is backed by members of the remarkable Hi Rhythm Section, like drummer Howard Grimes and organist Charles Hodges, in addition to other great artists like guitarist Joe Restivo and keyboardist Al Gamble.
4 of the album’s 10 songs are of current vintage, composed by Bryant and bassist/producer Scott Bomar. They also organized the gospel requirement “Stroll All Over God’s Heaven” which closes the album on a jubilant note. In his youth, Bryant and his brothers formed a gospel quintet. He released gospel music in the 1980 s.
The album’s two halves open with brand-new tunes about elements of romance: the exultant “Your Love Is to Blame,” motivated by Peebles and graced with a punchy horn plan, and the swampy, dismissive “Your Love Is Too Late.”
Composed for his spouse, who sang “99 Pounds” in the first individual on a 1972 album, Bryant now sings it about Peebles and the fact that “good things come in small plans.”
2 ballads, “Do not Turn Your Back on Me” and “I’ll Go nuts,” repeat Bryant singles from the ’60 s. Both variations are slower and longer than the originals and about as good as soul gets, while “Cracked Up Over You” is a lean and imply amalgam of the Hi and Stax sounds.
The mix of Bryant classics, brand-new songs and the ace backing band make “You Make Me Feel” a celebration of fantastic American music and of a singer-songwriter once again showing his skills.
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