Lay It Down
Elders doing collaborative projects with younger artists is not an entirely unheard-of phenomenon in the world of music. But what does make Al Green’s Lay It Down different from, say a Santana’s Supernatural, is the fact that Reverend Al’s vocals remain centre-stage on this, as it very well should. So while the album features some very impressive neo-soul voices – Anthony Hamilton, John Legend and Corinne Bailey Rae – none of them ever attempt to over-shadow Green. (Not that it would be an easy task to accomplish if they tried to.) Al Green’s voice is in prime form, belying his two-and-sixty years. Tracks like ‘Just For Me’ and ‘All I Need’ showcase his trademark falsetto vocals, still going strong after all these years and over 30 albums.
‘You’ve Got the Love I Need,’ ‘Standing in the Rain’ and ‘I’m Wile About You’ are three soul shakers which will have you tapping your foot and moving along from the word go – album co-producer Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson’s super-funky drums go a long way in helping achieve that. As does the late Chalmers “Spanky” Alford’s beautiful guitarwork. In the end, it’s probably this great marriage of young and old talent – talent being the keyword there – that makes Lay It Down such a great album. It is not a stuck-in-the-past nostalgia trip, nor is it badly modernised soul music. This is the real deal.
© Bobin James/Rolling Stone India, 2008