SUGARAY RAYFORD; Somebody Save Me (Forty Below)

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Sugaray Rayford is a Texas-born, old school blues and soul man who impressed all proper soul fans with his 2017 long player ‘The World That We Live In’. It was the kind of album that many feared was long gone; it was full of those qualities that drew veteran soul fans to the genre in the first place…. passion, commitment, fire, energy, sensitivity and yes raw soul. The music told us that Mr Rayford was probably reared in gospel and a quick check bore that out. For many years he was a cornerstone of the Texan Inspirational Youth Choir.

Now the good news, here comes the big man’s (he’s over 6ft 5 and weighs in at over 300 pounds) latest long player and ‘Somebody Save Me’ continues right where ‘The World That We Live In’ left off. So expect plenty (well 10 tracks worth) of old school soul. And like those old school soul classics this album is a well-balanced mix of straightforward love songs, social comment, ballads and up-tempo items.

The album was heralded at the end of 2018 with the single ‘The Revelator’ and that menacing, loping, sinister groove kicks off proceedings. There’s more of the same implied menace on the album closer, ‘Dark Night Of The Soul’. ‘Time To Get Movin” is jauntier but the message no less important. In the song (penned like the rest by label boss, Eric Corne) Sugaray explores the shameful problem of homelessness.

If its romance you want (and why not, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow) try the ballads ‘My Cards Are On The Table’ and ‘Somebody Save Me’. Other album highlights include the Stax flavoured ‘You And I’ and the more up town, Northern-tinged ‘Is It Just Me’.

So yes, plenty of variety across the set’s ten tracks. What holds it all together is Sugaray’s remarkable voice. Think back to, say, the Golden days of Chess and people like Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters; then factor in the sound of classic soul men like Solomon Burke and add a sprinkle of the big voiced icons like Teddy P and you’re getting near to the sound of Sugaray Rayford. Float that over an authentic soul backing in the manner of Daptone and Stax and you’re getting near to the sound of ‘Somebody Save Me’.

Sugaray Rayford; Somebody Save Me is released on March 1st. Find out more via our 2017 in depth interview with the man in our interview archive.

(BB) 4/5