Very few professionals of any kind, let alone musicians, can boast of a career as long as Lee Fields. Over the past 4 decades, Fields has written, recorded and performed with an impressive array of talented artists, producers and labels including Kool and the Gang, Martin Solveig, the Hip-Huggers and current label Truth & Soul Records. During this time, the soul man has compiled a body of work that spans from R&B and blues to funk and soul. And the soul revival of the early 21st Century has given new wings to this cultural treasure who carries the torch passed down from iconic soul singers like James Brown, Otis Reading, Sam Cooke and Wilson Pickett.
Full of vignettes riffing on the everyday struggles and triumphs that are universal in life, songs of love, joy and pain abound on Faithful Man. This is the second full length release with current backing band The Expressions; the house band for Brooklyn based label Truth & Soul. The Expressions, who have appeared on tracks by Adele, Aloe Blacc, El Michels Affar, Ghostface Killah and Jay-Z, evoke the sound of 60's soul without every compromising modern sensibilities or recording techniques. Laid back rhythms with supple horn and string arrangements grace every song with a musical palette that compliments the rough, yet somehow tender yearning in Fields voice. The result is one of the most authentic soul releases in recent memory, showing Lee Fields and The Expressions in full stride.
Thanks to sample-obsessed hip-hoppers and British rare-groove aficionados, interest in obscure vintage funk reached a peak in the late '90s, and Fields was fortunate enough to have remained active when new recordings in the style became a viable proposition. “In a curious case of musical evolution, the older Fields becomes, the closer he gets to perfecting the sound of soul that he grew up with as a young man," so said music writer, scholar and DJ Oliver Wang about fields in a piece for NPR in July 2009. The latest LP from Lee Fields and The Expressions, is the next step towards this perfection.
It's wonderfully poetic to experience a renewal of the sort Lee Fields is in the midst of living. After having toiled in near obscurity for the better part of his career, Fields is on the verge of becoming one of the standard bearers of soul. The themes of love, both lost and found, despair, hope and rebirth are timeless. And any true fan of musical artistry would do well to catch a live performance of this southern soul phoenix rising.