Artist: Chris Pierce
Album: You’ve Got to Feel It!
Label: Calabama Recordings
Release Date: 9.15.17
Going to Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to lovingly record 12 covers of vintage soul/R&B classics clearly had a profound effect on singer/songwriter Chris Pierce. It was a pilgrimage to a holy place, and at the famed studio where so many iconic artists plied their trade, the uninhibited Pierce let it all hang out for You’ve Got to Feel It!
If anyone can lay claim to being a modern-day Otis Redding, it’s the electrifying Pierce – his powerful vocals just as feverish and unrestrained as they are smooth, exuberant and tender. Eager to capture the essence of that famous Muscle Shoals sound of the ‘60s and ‘70s, Pierce surrounded himself with the session musicians responsible for its enduring glory on You’ve Got to Feel It! The rich, soulful backing vocals of The Shoal Sisters provide a velvety cloak for Pierce’s plaintive pleas. The Muscle Shoals Horns – crisp, spit-polished and fat – exude sunny warmth and The Swampers, that revered rhythmic section canonized by Lynyrd Skynyrd in “Sweet Home Alabama,” move everything forward with easy, effortless precision.
They’re old hands at this sort of thing, and they run a tight ship, giving Pierce – the consummate soul singer – room to roam. The chemistry between all parties is sublime, as they plumb the emotional depths of Jimmy Carr’s slow rolling “Dark End of the Street,” toughen up Al Green’s “I’m a Ram” and soothe Arthur Alexander’s “You Better Move On.” It results in a golden, twinkling remake of Clarence Carter’s adulterous “Slip Away,” a wistful, meditative reading of Jimmy Cliff’s “Many Rivers to Cross” and added radiance to Wilson Pickett’s celebratory “Don’t Fight It.”
Pierce is said to have experienced a rebirth in the making of this album. The same could be said of every track here.