Artist: Derrick Procell
Album: Why I Choose to Sing the Blues
Label: Self Released
Release Date: 11/22/2016
Once again, we have a surprise near year end. Derrick Procell has an amazingly soulful, gritty voice and, together with his partner, Grammy winning lyricist Terry Abrahamson, delivers some highly creative material. Procell is a multi-instrumentalist, mostly piano and harmonica, who plays with an array of musicians augmented by guest spots from Eddie Shaw, Billy Branch and Bob Margolin. He can also thank Abrahamson for their company. This is Procell’s debut blues album, having already issued projects in rock, country and roots. He explains how the album came about this way, “Most of the songs on this record were written over the last few years with Terry Abrahamson. Some have been covered by Chicago Blues legends, and others are seeing the light of day for the first time on this cd. There are a few older gems of mine on here as well, including a live-in-the-studio bonus track from 1990, “Too Much,” that won a Berghoff song contest. Beer and Blues… a match made in heaven!”
Early in his career, Procell’s college band, Parchman Farm, did mostly blues covers, and he later evolved into an in-demand studio singer for television and radio ads. His songs have been included on well-known shows like The Office, Boston Legal, True Blood and Criminal Minds.
Procell’s professionalism obviously allows him to channel his talents in many areas, but this may be indeed as strong a blues debut as we’ve ever heard, for two reasons. First, his voice is just so damn soulful. I know the title is close to an Allman Brothers version of a song with a similar name, but “Trouble Me No More” will be reminiscent of early Gregg Allman. Secondly, it’s the quality of the songs. These four tell really compelling stories: “The Wolf Will Howl Again” (with Eddie Shaw), “The Eyes of Mississippi” (with Bob Margolin), the title track, and a song that should be a strong candidate for Blues Song of the Year, “Who Will Tell Lucille,” which honors B.B. King in a clever way.
Although the music comes across as straight ahead blues, there’s plenty of variety in the styles that go well beyond the standard 12 bar format, which often becomes too repetitive. Procell’s stuff is smart, creative and yet as deeply soulful as any. You just have to hear this album. And, if you’re still on the fence and I haven’t convinced you, perhaps these words from Terry Abrahamson will: “On the day Derrick Procell got born, his soul was waitin’ for him ninety miles South. On the West Side. Under the el. In back of Silvio’s. Perched on a keg it rode down from Milwaukee. Soakin’ in the last jagged echoes of Howlin’ Wolf and the grit, sweat and muscle of the man who hauled that keg. Lines like “it’s in the sins of old Son House” and “The Wolf will howl again” waited a lifetime for the voice that carries that soul. Weren’t no other way. The Wolf is listening.”