Otis Clay & Johnny Rawls Soul Brothers Album Review

October 22, 2014 – by JOSEPH MCFADDEN


If you love old school soul music, the new Otis Clay and Johnny Rawls release Soul Brothers is the just the thing you need. Everything you love about soul music is here, funky guitar, rock solid bass, punchy horns, and the street-wise twin vocals of Clay and Rawls.

This is Southern Soul, think Memphis, not Detroit. As such the album is a mix of covers and originals, that all sound like songs you have known forever. The playing is so tight and flawless, and the vocals so spot-on that slipping this disc in the player is like trying on a comfortable pair of shoes.

Rawls, a member of O.V. Wright’s band for a decade or two, and Clay, a contemporary of both Wright and Rawls, sound like they have been singing together for years. The songs represent an interesting collection, there is a gospel song by Rawls sitting alongside covers of “What Becomes of the Brokenhearted,” and “Only You Know and I Know,” the latter a Dave Mason song.

One of the highlights is “Momma Didn’t Raise No Fool,” a tribute to a mother’s love and guidance, and a popular theme in soul music. “Living on Borrowed Time” paints of picture of the dangers of life on the street. Both of these songs were written in 2014, yet sound straight out of the 70s, which is a good thing. Along with “Road Dogs,” an autobiographical tome about life on the club circuit, the listener is taken back to golden days of Soul and R&B, before the advent of Rap and Hip Hop. Another track, “Turn Back the Hands of Time” features the smooth backing vocals of Arlen, Jessica, and Jillian Ivey. Like the best of the genre, this music is clearly born out of the gospel backgrounds of both Mr. Clay and Mr. Rawls.

This disc is great for the car, and for your next party. I can only hope this collaboration between Clay and Rawls will bring us more releases to look forward to…

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