Memphis soul redux
With The Soul Truth, Shemekia Copeland has made a fine late-’60s-style Memphis soul album.
Given Steve Cropper’s involvement as producer and guitarist, it’s not surprising. Cropper’s legendary playing on the great Atlantic albums from Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett helped define the deep-soul genre, and he’s applied the familiar Memphis/Muscle Shoals template to Copeland’s powerful, bluesy roar. The horns strut and swagger on the uptempo choruses, the Hammond B3 organ sounds appropriately greasy and Shemekia expertly plays off the slinky fretwork from Cropper, who even reprises his classic guitar fills from Sam and Dave’s “Soul Man” on the album’s first single “Who Stole My Radio?” But for all her obvious talents, Shemekia Copeland is no Aretha Franklin, and this type of soul/R&B fusion has been done a thousand times before. It’s hard to find fault with The Soul Truth.
It’s also hard to love it.