Lee Fields and the Expressions (New York)
At a time when many new artists are trying to emulate the soul and swagger of the 1960s, there’s Lee Fields – the real deal. Having begun with a few sparks in the late ‘60s, this incendiary singer has slowly grown over the better part of the last decade into a four-alarm blaze, making some of the hottest soul music around today.
A solid line of singles and albums stretching all the way back to the ‘70s never quite hit tinder; producers often wanted Fields to be the next Otis Redding or James Brown. But as the soul revival of the new millennium gathered steam, tastes veered away from technology-driven trends and back to honest, heartfelt arrangements. “I’m a true soul singer,” he says, “probably one of the few that’s left.” And he is, too — his range includes ballads and funk rave-ups, but he seems to burn brightest on the mid-tempo gut-wrenchers backed by crooning guitar and wailing horns that are the heart of classic soul.
With The Expressions, Fields has found the perfect backing band that has allowed him to find the fire in his own voice. This group of young Brooklynites punctuates his heartfelt pleas with slinky guitar lines; by laying down soulful grooves, the bass and drums seem to prop him up when he’s down and out; a horn section laments along with him as he sings of the woes of the world. This matchless pairing of Fields’ warm-and-raw growl and The Expressions’ switched-on and sharp musicianship us arguably the most dynamic combo in contemporary funk-soul, so get yourself ready as they stoke the roaring furnace of an unstoppable soul train.