Friday, August 30, 2019

Jimmy Carpenter Is The Soul Doctor

First, a big thanks to Gulf Coast Records for the advance preview of this much anticipated release. This record label is going to be a go-to place for many of us looking for real music in a world increasingly hostile to it. Admittedly I come to this review a little wet behind the ears. I know that Jimmy Carpenter has spent the last 30 plus years in the blues music business in various bands, most recently touring with Mike Zito. The partnership between Carpenter and Zito is likely the reason we have "Soul Doctor". And Zito is committed to bringing a new level of quality to this music and his new record label.

For those of you nostalgic for the music of the 1950's, 60's and early 70's, these grooves will supply you with a healthy dose of just what the doctor ordered. At the forefront, is Carpenter, playing his saxophone and singing like a legend from an era gone by.

This is first and foremost a fun blues-rock album, drenched in horns and sung with true soul. The production is airy and clear, with an emphasis on making music that can be duplicated in a live show. Press play for track one and "Soul Doctor" fills your ears with soothing medicine. The interaction between guitars, bass, drums and horns is the way it ought to be. Nick Schnebelen guests on guitar and plays his butt off.

"When I Met You" is a classic mid-tempo horn infused 60's soul number. Jimmy's voice rings out clear, seasoned and confident. "Wild Streak" follows and tells a tale of a woman who has a self discipline problem. You might get taken in by the story line as the band puts forth some convincing soul oriented blues with a shade or two of roots and country. "Love It So Much" takes the party to the next level. This is the kind of music that just makes you feel good. The singing, playing and quality of material is all first rate. The horns hit you from all directions. You won't just hear this album, you'll feel it.

"Need Your Love So Bad" is a slow burning soul ballad showcasing the multi-talented Carpenter who croons convincingly, followed by a terrific jazzy saxophone solo. The more you listen to this album, the more you feel like you've time traveled to a better place. "Wanna Be Right" picks it back up featuring a very funky guitar and some tasty Hammond B-3 with blasts of horns and backing vocals. This would be the song I'd release to the masses as evidence that real music is still being made. Today's music is completely devoid of anything that even remotely resembles this homage to everything good and decent about music. But it might be a great ice breaker if you've got open minded co-workers. Who knows.

"One Mint Julep", the old Coasters tune, is modernized and handled with care, as Jimmy saxes his way into your heart. The extended jam on this is particularly satisfying. "Wrong Turn" is a departure in style, going instead to a harder blues rock direction featuring Trevor Johnson on slide guitar and Al Ek on a rather aggressive harmonica solo. This might be the song you take to rock stations who'd like to program some talent rather than the garbage they foist upon the masses.

"LoFi" is a bluesy instrumental that synthesizes all of the other great moments on this record into one song. "Yeah Man" closes the album with Carpenter telling a story we can all relate to. There is hope and optimism in these final moments. Soul Doctor is a celebration of great, perfectly executed rock and blues. It's a beacon of light on a mostly dark and dreary musical landscape. It will restore your faith in decent, honest music, played by dedicated, talented musicians. The Soul Doctor has got the cure for your musical maladies.


  1. I'm ashamed to admit that I had never previously heard of either this
    record label or its killer stable of artists before you started posting
    your current series of reviews. In fact, you are absolutely correct
    in your assessments across the board!! Currently listening to the
    title track on Youtube and really liking what I'm hearing. I really
    can't get enough of that fab combo of a bluesy B3 organ and that honkin' sax!! Plus, always a bonus to hear some more properly recorded
    music with a genuinely live rhythm section. Amen to that!

    1. These comments mean a lot to me. Keep them coming! The record label is firing on all cylinders.

  2. Again, not a problem whatsoever. I'm middle-aged, up in Toronto with no
    close family living nearby barely eking out an existence on social assistance and dealing with a very belated ASD (Asperger's diagnosis).
    Music means everything to me and I'm happy to have an outlet to share my opinions and at least a sympathetic audience of one (for now, anyway!).