Blues and Soul Music Magazine

Issue 1101

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Sugaray Rayford: In Too Deep (Forty Below Records)




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UK release date 04.03.2022

Dizzyingly new heights from this blues and soul connoisseur - served up and with his trusty and loyal cohorts - all pulling in the right direction. Sugar Ray Rayford is in his toughest and truest form, with eyes firmly on the prize.

The material is honed, well crafted and full of measured bluesy, soul nuggets like the album's driving opener, "Invisible Soldier". This track is glued together by a killer riff and some prescient soul searching from the main man, whose majestic voice is something else, on this new platter - guttural, legato and carried away with the twin intoxications of a fierce lyric and a strong groove. It's the kind of record that inaugurates an historic career.

Riding the band's groove to glory in emphatic style, "Miss Information", exemplifies Rayford's mission statement. His stentorian voice echoes the same commingling of street sense and sensitivity found in the great Californian singer, Gregory Porter. Whilst "Please Take My Hand" belongs to the school of the old chain gang with deep sounding roots in American folklore... So inspired, he could dig a ditch with a toothpick! Powerful stuff!

"One" sees the band channelling Bill Withers and "Gonna Lift You Up" invokes shades of B.B. King, vocally, creeping into his soul review replete with a stinging but short guitar solo.

I also have to mention the horns on this album... Arranged by British musician Aaron Liddard, who engulfs the listener with his crack ace horn section, who play their asses off, whipping off licks like they are being handed crisp 100 dollar bills after each refrain. Monsta, monsta!

Sugar Ray Rayford is a giant of a man with a heart to match
and gladly accepts the maintenance of both beat and melody as his personal responsibility. He definitely wants you to dance too, as is evident on the funked-up closing track, "United We Stand”

So, here he is, singing more passionately and clasping onto the chain that extends to the birth of the blues. This drill sergeant of soul and his beat commandos have unleashed a belter.
Words Emrys Baird

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