Johnny Rawls review…November 3, 2019….

JOHNNY RAWLS

I MISS OTIS CLAY

THIRD STREET CIGAR RECORDS

CALIFORNIA SHAKING AGAIN–GIVE A TOAST TO THE BLUES–I MISS OTIS CLAY–I CAN’T LET NOBODY–CAN’T READ YOUR MIND–GIVING YOU SOMETHING YOU CAN FEEL–SLOW ROLL IT–MOTION OF THE OCEAN–KISSING AND HUGGING–THE WIND

Otis Clay was one of the great soul men of our generation.  Felled much too soon by a heart attack on January 8, 2016, his secular recordings, such as “Trying To Live My Life Without You,” later popularized by Bob Seger, and “That’s How It Is (When You’re In Love),” as well as his vast gospel repertoire, made him an endearing vocalist to legions of fans.  One of his best friends is still a powerful and viable force in contemporary blues, Johnny Rawls.  For Johnny’s latest set for Third Street Cigar Records, he opted not to just re-create Otis’ works, but, rather, to write ten original songs that offer a heartfelt tribute to his friend, “I Miss Otis Clay.” The cuts are in no way mournful, and are presented in the vintage soul-blues style for which Johnny is noted, and that would make Otis proud.

The set opens with a thumping, dance floor burner that is an ode to the recent West Coast earthquakes, “California Shaking Again.”  Set over a funky guitar from Larry Gold, Johnny urges us all to lift a glass and “Give A Toast To The Blues,” name-checking legends both past and present. One of our favorites also happens to be one of Johnny’s, too.  “I Can’t Let Nobody take you away from me” is a shout-out to all us lovers devoted to one another for the long haul.

We had two favorites, too.  The set closes with the thought-provoking tale of Johnny wishing he could “be The Wind, to blow my troubles away.”  Our other favorite was the title cut.  It was recorded live from a recent trip to Copenhagen, and encapsulates Johnny’s deep love and respect for Otis Clay and his vast talents.

Johnny Rawls is not about to slow down.  Always in the conversation when Awards time rolls around, he loves what he does, and that passion shows up in the grooves of his recordings.  “I Miss Otis Clay” continues this great soul man’s living legacy.  Johnny, we love you, man!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues And Roots Alliance.

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