by Rudy Palma
Sugaray Rayford is back with a new album, Somebody Save Me. A slamming blues and soul sound that rocks the rafters with his raspy hued, soulful voice. I could listen to Rayford all day. Sporting all original material, though not written by Rayford himself. The tunes are actually written by Eric Corne, who produced the album and plays guitar, harmonica and percussion. Notably, Corne is the founder and president of Forty Below Records, the label releasing this album. The personnel on the album include Sasha Smith on keys, Rick Holmstrom on guitar, Eamon Ryland on guitar, Taras Prodaniuk on bass, Matt Tecu on drums, Mark Pender on trumpet, Ron Dziubla on saxophone, and Richard A. Rosenberg on trombone, with several guests that add to the depth of the overall album sound.
Kicking off with “The Revelator,” the album states right out of the gate, this offering will feature a healthy dose of blues, funk and soul, all tied together by the indomitable talents of Rayford. Hip beats, and a thumping bassline with inspired backing vocals by Eric Corne, Brittany Gael Vaughn, Brittney S. Wheeler, Gabriel M. Newman, J. Blake White and Terika Jefferson. Rayford is preeminent on this track, showing why this man has soul in his bones. Of note, is the organic production, not slathered with too much reverb, it gives the listener a chance to enjoy the performances in their raw and organic state, like the great retro recordings.
Followed by the bluesy “Time To Get Movin’,” a blues/rock tune that is anthemic in is lyrics, purporting our need for change, an anti-hate tune in essence, but much more than that – it rings of our lack of action as a country and how we need to stop fighting with each other and get moving to make a better life. On the softer side, “You and I,” plays like an old soul song. Channeling the Al Greene sensuality “you and I, side by side, until the end of time.” Rayford invokes that gospel soulfulness that makes the soul genre so compelling. “You and I,” also invokes the melding of social consciousness and love, the stuff great love affairs are made of.
A thoroughly enjoyable listen throughout, in honesty there is not a bad track on this album, you will find yourself pressing repeat endlessly. I must credit Corne on his writing, he has penned some seriously fine tunes, the choice of Rayford as the vehicle of expression for these tunes, is nothing short of stellar. Together, they have created a masterful recording that will no doubt stand the test of time.