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Mike Farris - Silver and Stone (Compass Records)
Tennessee-born rocker Mike Farris keeps things tight and soulful throughout the dozen songs on SILVER AND STONE, an album named after his wife's wedding ring. That piece of jewellery has been on Julie's finger for 23 years, through thick and thin and this album is a celebration of that enduring relationship. Garry West's production may recall the golden age of Stax and the vocal performances may be easily likened to those of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding, but none of this appears to be forced, rather, the grooves come over organically, a reflection on a life well and truly lived.
Whilst the Bill Withers song Hope She'll Be Happier showcases Farris's sensitive side, delivered in a voice very much his own, Movin' Me has Al Green and Curtis Mayfield written all over it; a fine vocal performance, augmented by a blistering guitar solo courtesy of Joe Bonamassa. When Mavis Sings, another Farris original, is a fine homage to the Queen of Gospel herself, Mavis Staples, a close friend, whose story is told with informed authority. Despite his rough and ready, slicked back hair, shades and leather image, the voice, performance, musical arrangement and overall production is more in keeping with black tie and Valentino suits, slick soul at its best.
Surrounded by a cast of musicians who have collectively served time with such artists as Dusty Springfield, Elvis Presley, Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt, Patty Griffin and Delbert McClinton, to name but a few, SILVER AND STONE stands as a fine statement of Nashville Soul.