Soul legend Lee Fields has re-teamed with The Expressions for new album Emma Jean. Coming at a time when many new artists are trying to emulate the soul and swagger of the 1960s, Mr. Fields showers us with authenticity on the 11-track set, highlighted by first single “Magnolia.” Hear the refreshed cover of the JJ Cale track that embodies the late, great American singer-songwriter and the Tulsa Sound he helped create. Since releasing his first album in 1969, Fields has continued to make music for the last 45 years.
And having been on the road, touring non-stop for the better part of the last decade, it's evident that Fields has hit an elevated stride both as a recording artist and live performer. Emma Jean is the follow up to Fields’ widely praised first two Truth & Soul albums—2009’s My World and 2012’s Faithful Man. Lee Fields & The Expressions have forged a distinct soulful sound and a grown style with this album. They’ve pushed their sound in new directions, moving from being content as contemporary soul music royalty and instead delving into and exploring its next steps.
There's a sharper wisdom in the songwriting--from the having loved, lost, and learned vibe of “Don't Leave Me This Way,” backed by crooning guitar and wailing horns, to the sophisticated arrangements and studio acumen that's pared with Lee's straightforward sincerity in “Just Can't Win.” Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys wrote “Paralyzed,” and having Emma Jean mixed and partially recorded at his Nashville studio, country soul and bluesy rock are immediately noticeable. It brings a different kind of strut to the album, but Fields--born and raised in North Carolina--is right at home with the Southern soul sound. In fact, it feels like a natural progression: an organic, refreshingly pure next step.
Like past releases from this matchless pairing of Fields' warm-and-raw growl and The Expressions' switched-on and sharp musicianship, Emma Jean takes soul music in a familiar but updated direction. "He's 63 years old,” notes the album’s producer and co-owner of Truth & Soul Leon Michels, “he's so focused, and has been working non-stop--he's singing the best he ever has."