2013 is an exciting year for Booker T. Jones, who helped shape soul music as organist of the tight, laid-back ‘60s combo Booker T. & the MGs. In April, he was honored to musical direct a PBS White House concert of Memphis soul. Really, it’s the rest of us who were honored by hearing this songwriter, producer, multi-instrumentalist and four-time Grammy winner whose vision of soul music remains vital and fresh. This album announces even bigger news: after 43 years: Jones has come home to Stax, the resurrected, history-making home of soul-shaking records.
Jones wrote or co-wrote all 12 songs, embracing sounds from soul’s many hometowns. He surrounds Mayer Hawthorne’s smooth tenor with a dash of hip-hop swagger and swirling, vintage samples of his own keyboard work (title cut). He produces a playful, guitar-driven mix around Luke James’s intimate tenor (“All Over The Place”), and a classic 1960s Detroit sound for Jay James’s emotional baritenor (“Broken Heart”). Jones’s solo keyboard work is captivating on cuts like “Austin City Blues” with Gary Clark, Jr.’s smart, bluesy electric guitar, “Father Son Blues” with Ted Jones’s blistering guitar work, and a stylish soul cha‑cha, “66 Impala,” featuring Poncho Sanchez (percussion) and Sheila E (drums).
– Annie Dinerman
Sound The Alarm will be available on CD and as a digital download on June 25th.