Johnny Ray Jones review…July 20, 2017….

JOHNNY RAY JONES

FEET BACK IN THE DOOR

MOONDOG RECORDS

FEET BACK IN THE DOOR–HOLE IN YOUR SOUL–COME UP AND SEE ME SOMETIME–HIGH COST OF LOVING–HARD TIMES WON–LOVE-ITIS–I’M A BLUES MAN–A CERTAIN GIRL–IN THE HEART OF THE CITY–HEARTS HAVE TURNED TO STONE

Veteran Southern California blues man Johnny Ray Jones has been called “The Godson Of Soul,” and for good reason.  His vocals coach and mentor was the great Sam Taylor, while the wife of Percy Mayfield was his godmother.  His debut album’s title is apt, indeed,  as “Feet Back In The Door” actually had its beginnings back in 1995.  The ten cuts herein include one of Johnny’s originals, and all have that good ole Southern soul of Muscle Shoals by way of New Orleans, done in Johnny’s deep, soaked-in-a-barrel-of-Jack voice.

Joining Johnny are some of the most successful and famous players on the planet, both with instruments and behind the boards.  Along with Johnny Ray, the set is also produced by guitarist Johnny Lee Schell, and drummer man Tony Braunagel,  with Mike Finnigan on keys,  and Hutch Hutchinson on bass.

The set begins with the title cut, penned by Arthur Adams, and finds Johnny singing over a slow-cooked groove and asking a lover for a second chance, to get his “Feet Back In The Door.”  Everybody sets up a swampy groove for Johnny’s good advice to all of us–“you got a Hole In Your Soul if you can’t feel rhythm and blues,” this one  written by Sam Taylor, and featuring Coco Montoya on guitar.

Johnny gets in that Big Easy swing with a killer version of Allen Toussaint’s “A Certain Girl,” and the set’s closer, Leon Russell’s “Hearts Have Turned To Stone,” with some testifyin’ piano from Mike.  Johnny’s original, “In The Heart Of The City,” is an ode to the loneliness one can feel amidst the bustle of a big town such as L. A., especially when your lover’s not around.

As good as all these are, we had two favorites, too.  “The High Cost Of Loving” is sho’ nuff gettin’ higher every day—“the less I make, the more I have to pay.”  And, Johnny gets all over the greasy swagger of Arzell Hill’s “I’m A Blues Man–I’m an original/one of a kind!”

Johnny Ray Jones sings these songs directly from his soul to yours.  He’s paid his dues, and now, he’s got his “Feet Back In The Door.”  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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