James Payne ‘Love Talk (Ecko’s From The Past)’ (Snake Free) 3/5

Well 2018 just meandered in musically the way 2017 ended, more soul records coming through the door than the postie can handle and the wants list, in terms of new material, just growing daily – don’t you just love this world of ours?

James Payne is one of black America’s journey men, having been given his first guitar at the age of 9 and been on one hell of a journey ever since, which saw him join numerous gospel groups from and around Mobile Alabama. Not one of life’s prolific recorders of music but has earned his living playing a myriad of live gigs touring with the Blues Unlimited Band and with his good friend, southern soul legend Mr David Brinston. By 2001 he was an artist with the Mr Tee Record Company performing with his own band, The Justice Show Band, travelling on to Jacksonville and eventually to Florida. In 2001 he had a hit single, “Fat Woman”, with the full length CD appearing shortly after.

And so to this tasty 11 tracker, the usual warning with southern soul albums applies, no real instruments, and at times a sparse production, but all this allows us to listen to his smoky lived in vocals that occasionally wander off key, there are a couple of scintillating downlow ballads on here one of which, “I Ain’t Gonna Cry No More”, could just be destined for further exposure on the Soul Discovery and Soul Sermon soul shows, it’s early yet but it could make it through the year as a constant play here as it’s so so good and then we slip effortlessly into “Love Talk” which is perfect radio fodder, the production on both these is top notch and couldn’t be bettered really. Upping the pace a cracking stroller which also got the nod here “If It Feels Good”, and if you fancy shaking your tail feathers then jump on “Two Good Women” a feel good dancer. Staying in that groove we have “My Outside Woman”, and mellowing out slightly we have “I Never Take A Day Off”, of the other tracks they all have something to offer. For me a great way to kick off the year.

Brian Goucher