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Issue 1101

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Review

The Soul Dogs Ft. Lifford Shillingford: Volume One

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8

6.6

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UK release date 14.10.2022

Some good old homegrown gritty soul gets an airing with new act The Soul Dogs and their fine debut album "Volume One", featuring accomplished UK soul vocalist, Lifford Shillingford.

This authentic brand of soul music has worked well for the likes of The Teskey Brothers and Tedeschi Trucks Band. This is a sterling platter of highly structured southern soul-influenced songs that possess a sweet resonance and intensity. Singer, Lifford Shillingford, brings both life experience and vocal know-how to show any pretenders how it's done.

"Karma" is a great opener and band mission statement. It has an air of familiarity too, perhaps down to the proven chord sequence, but just like Van Morrison’s tried and tested chord choices, they can still keep it sounding fresh. It has that hymnal quality too, the type Arrow Benjamin chases. i.e. if you don’t believe in something you’ll fall for anything!

This debut has pathos and conviction and isn’t overcooked. However, they do fall foul and step into soul cabaret/reality TV mode with Sam Cooke’s towering tome "A Change Is Gonna Come" - for me, a different spin that just doesn’t come off but still with decent vocals nonetheless. I remember Seal covered it (along with other chestnuts) begging the question why? Let’s preserve the memory and what the song originally stood/stands for. But we will forgive them because there’s enough guilt-edged class with "Part Time Angel" and the self-reflective "Black Dog" especially good.

Lifford shines on the down-tempo numbers such as "Songs Of Surrender" a sweet soul gem and vocally, delivered perfectly. He doesn’t push it with over-melismatic gesturing he just sings it in his own inimitable and measured fashion. The groovy guitar solo gives it a great Ted Templeman/Doobie Bros 70’s vibe as does the gorgeous acoustic piano and outro.

"Get Ready For The Storm" has a Bill Withers sense of urgency some crisp guitar (central to the band’s sound ) reigns supreme with a great drum groove, lo-fi and greasy as hell. There’s plenty to get your teeth into here and with a tight clean production this promising debut should get well received and noticed.
Words Emrys Baird

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