CD REVIEW: Joe Turley - Over the Horizon
By Chip Withrow - 08/13/2006 - 05:12 PM EDT
Artist: Joe Turley
Album: Over the Horizon
As I listened to Joe Turley's disc, two thoughts kept coming back to me:
First, albums like Over the Horizon may not top the charts, but they have a timeless quality. I'm reminded of Van Morrison and Delbert McClinton, but I'm also thinking that this is the kind of record American Idol winner Taylor Hicks should be making.
Second, I've been reading this book about writing fiction, and the author states that a good writer doesn't necessarily have to shy away from cliches. Turley and co-writer Jeff Silbar don't break much new ground lyrically, but Turley sings with such force and passion that it doesn't matter.
Within the first two tracks of Over the Horizon, Turley and his band (which, in fact, consists of him playing about half the instruments) hit me where I live. These muscular numbers feature some of my favorite soul devices: blues harp and organ ("You Make Me Believe"), horns and percussive piano ("Ride With Me").
But it's the slower numbers that I can really get into. "Little Piece of Heaven" and "Turn to Me" have irresistible grooves. "Heaven" is good-timey, and "Turn" is smoldering and aching.
"Anywhere But Where I Am" comes darn close to being a power ballad, and that's OK by me. It's pumped up by crunching guitar chords, ends on a well-timed howl, and features a wicked slide guitar turn by "Moose" Harrell. "Pressing On" has a similar feel to "Anywhere," and "Pressing" has a unique chord progression and a gotta-be-strong chorus.
Probably my favorite cut is "No Stranger to the Blues." Songs about Jesus can be heavy-handed, but "Stranger" is good enough to avoid that trap. It has plenty of gospel in the piano and organ fills and backup singers, and Turley's vocal is heartfelt.
The album ends with the swinging "Real Thing," which reminds me of a powerhouse, sweat-soaked ending to a '60s soul revue: horns, call-and-response vocals, everything's-all right-in-the-end vibe. B-3 organ player Johnny Neal deserves mention for this number and for his work throughout the disc.
Over the Horizon is soulful and soul-stirring. Joe Turley taps into his spirituality and has the rhythm-and-blues chops to deliver.
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