SUGARAY RAYFORD is a Texas-born, old school blues and soul man who’s been  impressing real soul fans  since his 2017 long player ‘The World That We Live In’ raged out of the sales racks. It was the kind of music that defined “soul” back in the day and we learned that Mr R had come to his secular music making via the tried and tested gospel route. For many years he was a cornerstone of the Texan Inspirational Youth Choir.

Today, June 14th,  Sugaray “unleashes” his latest album, ‘Human Decency’,  and we use that word, “unleashes” advisedly because the concise nine tracker is a powerful, explosive piece of work. If you’ve been lucky enough to check out the set’s first three singles, then you’d know that ‘Run For Cover’ (no, not the Dells’ song), ‘Ain’t That A Man’ and  ‘Stuck Between’ were (indeed are) real soul throwbacks – with the classic Stax sounds being the best reference point. Indeed ‘Stuck Between’ – a duet with Sam Morrow – owes a lot to the wonderful sound of Sam and Dave.

And if that Stax, Malaco, Muscle Shoals, southern soul thing is your thing, then you’ll find plenty more to delight you on ‘Human Decency’. That sound explodes straight out of the blocks with the opener, ‘Falling Upwards’ and the pace doesn’t  let up with the brash and brassy album title track and ‘Strawberry Hill’. ‘Stuck Between’ is a whole lot funkier while for contrast, ‘Hanky Panky Time’ rides in on a jaunty vibe, though there’s a real bluesy menace in the vocals. If you want some blues, the LP’s closer, ‘Aha’ would have made people like BB King, Little Milton and Bobby Bland proud!

Production on this album’s down to Eric Corne  and between them, singer and producer, craft an incendiary sound that combines classic soul and funk with raw blues power. Helping  them mix this   heady cocktail are players like guitarist Rick Holmstrom and singer Saundra Williams who are both from Mavis Staples’s band, along with bassist Taras Prodaniuk.

SUGARAY RAYFORD’S ‘Human Decency’ is out now via Forty Below Records.