Amos Garrett - Get Way Back: A Tribute To Percy Mayfield
It is a surprise, if not a nice shock, to listen to this record, a cover record with soul and a firm respect for the blues and R & B. Amos Garett has played with higher (Steview Wonder) and lesser (Maria Muldaur) lights, but here plays inspired and honest. He shines a light on his own chops as he pays homage to a master songwriter.
"Get Way Back" is a salute to the great writer/singer Percy Mayfield, who wrote classics for, among others, Ray Charles, as well as hitting the charts on his own. Garrett aims to explore the deep soul of these tracks; his arrangements are slow in most cases, allowing the emotion to full draw out from tunes like "My Jug and I" and "Pretty Eyed Baby." In the first, depth is added to his fretwork by horns; in the latter, a surprisingly mournful vocal does the trick. Always though, there is his holoow-body jazz guitar, sometimes slick, othertimes distorted, always effective.
Some of the more uptempo tunes, like "Stranger in My Hometown," are standard jump-blues that don't ring very soulful; they sound like Dr. John coverband outtakes. The dark shuffle of the rest of the set more than makes up for those couple tracks.
Percy Mayfield worked in pop, R & B and Soul, but his heart always broke like a bluesman. Songs like "The Country," "Fading Love," and even his most famous songs like "Hit The Road Jack" (thankfully not covered by Garrett) dig deep and drip with emotional truth. Garrett takes a laid back approach to the legend on "Get Way Back," but also manages to tap into that honest, whistful melancholy that made Mayfield a genius.
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