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Jacob Merlin - Alchemy of Soul

Alchemy of Soul

Jacob Merlin

Backline Records - BR1001

Available from Jacob Merlin's web site.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

With equal amounts of sass, brass, jazz, soul, funk, gospel, rock, and N'awleans attitude, Jacob Merlin rolls out an 11-spot of soul sides that garnered the honored Mic Gillette in for a large seal of approval. Merlin styles himself from Les McCann to Earth, Wind, and Fire, playing keyboards a la Billy Paul while singing admonitions, observations, and laments:

It's clear I'm not needed here,
I'm talking to a face made of stone,
Rap all you want, there's no one home.

Don't fight it, your head is sided
I can ease all your troubles, I can ease your load,
But there's no one home.

Gillette co-arranged the horn section with Rick Tippetts atop Merlin's comps, giving more than a little of that ol' Tower of Power taste. A smooth mellow atmosphere takes up a good deal of the space here, but the songs swing more than few times in cuts like Madness, with its emphatic grooves contrasted by a lazy rambling horn middle eight which tightens into a set of riffs on the melody. And don't forget the George Duke / Billy Preston clav in "Deja Vu" followed by a Wurlitzer solo.

This is definitely old school stuff that'll be attracting lots of new ears, as the template for a sound so drenched was almost lost not long ago. Hammerhead has Isley Brothers airs and rocks like early Mother's Finest cut with Chicago, Donut is a definite dance floor bop track, and Muddy Right Foot almost catches the Allman Bros. unawares with Michael Suffin's slide and blues peripheries. Lots to like here.

  • Come to Papa
  • Art of Deception
  • Cover Me
  • Madness
  • Deja Vu
  • Hammerhead
  • Donut
  • Monster
  • Muddy Right Foot
  • When I See You Again
All songs written by Jacob Merlin.

Edited by: David N. Pyles


Copyright 2009, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.

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