Wednesday, March 16, 2016

JEFF HEALEY: "Heal My Soul"

Rating: RRRR
Label: Provogue/Mascot 2016
Review by: Urban "Wally" Wallstrom

I still recall the first time I heard or rather watched the Jeff Healey video and thought to myself, what the heck is he doing with a guitar in his lap? Those were the days when a blind man could still play the blues on MTV... and it mattered to the kids. The Cancer took his sight and eventually his life in 2008 and the unique style and tone died with the man. Beyond the grave, resurrected, are twelve new songs that the Jeff Healey Estate has managed to dig up (no pun intended) and completely restore.

So what if it's a mixed bag. Some truly classy tunes and future classics and a couple of typical leftovers. That's pretty much what you'd expect anyhow. Nonetheless. The genuine work and style of Healey shines through as "Heal My Soul" is powered by a strong back-beat and rhythm section, wailing, spot-on guitar chords and lead, and vocals that border on the possessed. It's dynamic R&B/Blues, one minute ripping up Richard Thompson's 'I Misunderstood' and proving that some covers are just as good, if not better than the originals, the next, blues crooning with "Kiss The Ground You Walk On", and going folk-power-ballad-ish with "All The Saints".

The Jeff Healey Estate's Cristie Healey and Roger Costa have this to say about, Heal My Soul, "it's a project that we have wanted to tackle for years. A ‘lost’ album, it contains material recorded during one of the most creative periods in Jeff’s rock career. Until now, it has never seen the light of day. Jeff was very proud of this work and it features some of the most powerful and impassioned performances he ever committed to record. With complete creative control we’ve laboured hard, tracking down recordings, identifying the right performances, restoring them to their proper stature and mixing and mastering them from the ground up. This has been a true labour of love for us from beginning to end and we’re absolutely thrilled to be able to finally share this significant release with the world.”

Actually. I'll take back my words. It's not really a mixed bag, quality-wise. Sure. There's a couple of not so great moments, however, the overall impression of "Heal My Soul", a lot better than expected when it comes to these kind of after-death releases. The horrible Michael Jackson's? Opener, "Daze Of The Night", set the pace and standard of the album with those fuzzy notes and licks. Another talking point, the starting line of 'The devil is in my shoes again'. It's far from the best track on offer though. The tracks I tend to skip? The dodgy, "Moodswing", since it feels like second rate Cream and Eric Clapton, and "Temptation" (great guitar work and solo as always tho'). I'm surprised over the many slow songs and ballads. The likes of "Baby Blue", "Love In Her Eyes", and "It's The Last Time" are however superb and especially the latter send shivers down the spine. Recommended. Release date: 25th of Mars. Happy Birthday Jeff (R.I.P).

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