FAME Review: Johnny Rawls - Soul Survivor
Johnny Rawls - Soul Survivor

Soul Survivor

Johnny Rawls

Catfood Records - CFR-15

Available from CD Baby.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Bob Gottlieb

This often lauded singer/songwriter has produced arguable his strongest album yet. The title, Soul Survivor, is apt in a multitude of ways. He is a masterful singer in the Soul/Blues category that is smooth as silk and yet as gritty as a 100 grit diamond polishing wheel. There are times his voice has that soulful quality that made Sam Cooke such a star. He was greatly influenced by O.V. Wright and the whole Southern Soul tradition, which has a penchant for story telling. This disc shows that more clearly than many of his previous efforts, and also displays his talent for writing good songs.

The band backing him on this disc has mostly been with him before and on several other discs; it is tight, sharp and very well seasoned. It is mostly comprised of members of The Rays, a band he discovered and recorded as the 1990s were ending, and they are augmented as needed with some solid studio musicians who have backed others of the genre such as Marvin Gaye and Diana Ross, thus they are comfortable with his style. His delivery is smooth without being slick, there is just that bit of sand in his voice to give it character, while the band playing behind him has some horns to highlight the vocals and support the guitar and organ propelled songs. Look to singers such as Sam Cooke and Rawls' mentor O.V. Wright for his delivery and stage show. His voice can take you to the deepest lows and highest highs of emotion. It has that ability to translate the emotion to raw feeling, holding nothing back.

Track List:

  • Soul Survivor
  • Hand Me Downs
  • Eight Men, Four Women
  • King of Hearts
  • Long Way from Home
  • Bad Little Girl
  • Drowning
  • Don't Need a Gun to Steal
  • J.R.'s Groove
  • Yes

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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