Lee Fields, Faithful Man

Dan Epstein

By Dan Epstein

on 03.13.12 in Reviews
Pure gutbucket gold

Lee Fields doesn’t mess around. On Faithful Man, his first album since 2009′s acclaimed My World, it takes the veteran soul man just eight seconds to hit peak intensity. “I’ve always been a faithful man, till you came along,” he pleads against a tense “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”-style groove. His voice filled with apocalyptic dread because he knows he’s powerless against temptation, but he also knows that giving in will change his life forever. It’s classic soul conundrum – and these days, nobody does classic soul better than Lee Fields. Members of such neo-soul knights as the El Michels Affair, Dap-Tones and the Menahan Street Band providing the forceful backing tracks (think early ’70s Stax with a touch of Philadelphia International), leaving Fields plenty of room to wail on songs like “Wish You Were Here,” “It’s All Over (But the Crying)” and the stunning “Walk On Thru That Door,” which features the kind of slow-burning fuzztone-and-strings arrangement that The Dramatics would have traded in their Lincoln Continentals for. The album’s only real misstep occurs on a cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Moonlight Mile,” an intriguing idea on paper that doesn’t really pan out, mostly because Fields doesn’t seem to find any common ground with Mick Jagger’s impressionistic lyrics. Everything else on Faithful Man is pure gutbucket gold.