Emma Jean

Emma Jean

When it comes to soul singers, there's simply nothing like the authentic thing. Sure, younger kids influenced by the music can come up and give us their own spin on the music, but it’s never quite like hearing Candi Staton or Charles Bradley or Sharon Jones or, in this case, Lee Fields bring us a sense of the pre-disco era of soul music. Fields and The Expressions, his soulful big band, have been surprising audiences since his 2009 comeback, My World. 2012’s Faithful Man was an ever-greater exposition of his talents, and 2014’s Emma Jean is again as joyous and revelatory, with the sound of “Standing by Your Side” pulsing from the speakers like a lost treasure from the Memphis Stax and Wilson Pickett/Muscle Shoals days. Horn sections, female backing vocal groups, and even a church organ find their way into these songs. The cover of J.J. Cale’s “Magnolia” is heartfelt, while Leon Russell’s “In the Woods” is cool and funky. Old school is sometimes the only way to go.

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