ELI ‘PAPERBOY’ REED & THE TRUE LOVES: Roll With You (Label: Q Division)

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The wonderfully-named Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed is a white musician who, along with his six-piece True Loves, operates out of Boston. The Paperboy, though, served his musical apprenticeship in the Mississippi Delta and at Mitty Collier’s Chicago church, where he led the choirs and played the piano. It would be too obvious to say that those experiences show – but they do. ‘Roll With You’, you see, is a brand new album, but it’s stuffed with real, old school soul – the kind peddled back in the day by the great and classic soul stylists. Listen in here and hear echoes of Otis Redding, Joe Tex, James Brown, Sam Cooke, Dyke and the Blazers and many more, but what makes this eleven tracker much more than an exercise in pastiche or karaoke is the commitment of the young Reed and his tighter-than-tight band. Simply put, the seven piece have a huge, youthful exuberance which makes the music exciting and vibrant – just as it was in those heady days of the 60s when classic soul was crystallising. Though I’m not suggesting that ‘Roll With You’ matches albums like ‘Otis Blue’, it does offer the same kind of passion, commitment and variety. If you dig soul ballads, there’s ‘It’s Easier’ – a big pleading song with a throbbing bass line, while ‘Am I Just Fooling Myself’ has almost the same ache quotient as ‘I’ve Been Loving You Too Long’. Fuel for the feet is provided by the fast and furious ‘ Stake Your Claim’ while ‘Doin’ The Boom Boom’ is one of those catchy dance numbers that populated the best 60s soul output. Stand out cut, though is ‘Take My Love With You’. It starts with some honest James Brown-style testifying before morphing into a rough, swinging affair that even Sam Cooke would have been proud of. It has a real internal energy – indeed the uncomplicated dynamism of the whole set makes ‘Roll With You’ totally refreshing. If Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings represent the distaff side of the new breed soul/funk revival, then the Paperboy and his True Loves represent the male side.
BB 4/5