Legendary soul belter Solomon Burke never had Otis' or Aretha's crossover success; however, he has been making up for it in recent years. His '02 Grammy-winning comeback album, Don't Give Up on Me
, found him reinterpreting tunes by Elvis Costello, Brian Wilson, and Tom Waits. Last year's Make Do With What You Got
followed a similar rocking-soul recipe. On his latest, Burke gives that formula a twist or, more precisely, a twang. Traveling to Nashville, Burke enlists the aid of esteemed producer-guitarist Buddy Miller and a host of Music City luminaries (Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Gillian Welch) to find that sweet spot where country and soul intersect.
But it's not the all-star guest list that makes this record special. It's Burke's magnificent voice. Although comfortably past 60, he still sings in a thoroughly commanding way. You can feel his heartbreak on numbers like the stirring "Valley of Tears" and the gospel-infused "Up on the Mountain." Yet Burke's also full of life when he's going "hog-crazy" on a loose, back-porch version of Springsteen's "Ain't Got You" or singing a duet with Patty Loveless on the rousing "You're the Kind of Trouble." Burke's trip to Nashville proves a memorable one.