California soul man JOE LEAVY first came to our attention fronting a Tom Glide track, ‘Party People’ circa 2013. So good, it was included on one of Expansion’s acclaimed ‘Luxury Soul’ compilations. Then there was Joe’s own album, ‘A Man Named Joe Leavy’ which sadly slipped under the radar for many. Fast forward to 2020 and genial Joe won our hearts and souls with his single ‘Inside You’. We were told that the ab fab cut was taken from an “upcoming” album. Well, it’s taken its time, but the promised album ‘Soul On Fire’ is finally with us. Of course, in the intervening years, Mr L has cleverly drip fed us with some tasty singles – ‘Love Me 2 My Soul’, ‘Let It Go’ and ‘Do It Again’ … all deserved soul chart riders.
Now, of course, all four of those tunes are on the long player but they still sound good and they come in subtly different “album” mixes. In fact ‘Inside Your Love’ opens the album and serves as a reminder of its impact on initial 2020 release – a release that prompted soul commentors to make comparison between Joe and people like dear Luther, Peabo Bryson, Will Downing, Phil Perry and Marvin. And, yes, throughout the 11 tracker, you can hear shades of all those greats but make no mistake – Joe is his own man; he has a style all his own and what’s more he’s maybe a tad more versatile than some of those soul masters.
Joe can deliver in all kinds of styles. So, yes, ‘Inside Your Love’ had a definite Gaye (circa ‘I Want You’) vibe but (as an example) the album’s title track is totally different. The cut ‘Soul On Fire’ (which closes proceedings) is a rousing gospel workout – praise and testifying in glorious fashion. A contrast to, say, ‘Find A Way To Love’ which is a classy mix of smooth jazz and sophisticated soul. Fab sax input here from Jeanette Harris, by the way.
And that’s another feature of this album that ensures variety. Joe shrewdly works empathetically with some well-chosen guests. Thus we’ve just mentioned saxophonist Jeanette Harris, then there’s
flautist Althea Renee who features on the aforementioned Do It Again’ while soul stylist Juanita Wynn adds her vocals to the bright ‘Give It Right’ and ‘Up A Notch’. Less known, maybe, is Robin Joy who duets with Joe on a cover of the Sam Dees song , ‘Love All The Hurt Away’. Probably best known in the Aretha/George Benson version, Joe and Joy make it their very own and they’re clearly not daunted by the song’s pedigree. There’s real chemistry between the two of ‘em while Steve Alaniz cranks up the sensuality with his mellifluous sax lines. It’s a classic soul duet and that’s a word you’ll be using time after time when listening to this album. Make no mistake, ‘Soul On Fire’ is a future soul classic – a potential album of the year.
Right now the album is available exclusively @ https://joeleavy.com/ where all the purchase options are explained. Learn Learn more about Joe and the album via our exclusive interview @ https://www.soulandjazzandfunk.com/interviews/his-souls-on-fire-joe-leavy-qa/