Sunday, August 26, 2018

Boz Scaggs Out Of The Blues 2018 and A Fool To Care 2015

Boz Scaggs has been producing some great material in later years. I discussed most of his catalog along with his 1997 Anthology, and I reviewed his Memphis from 2013. Since then Boz has maintained his activity with these two fine records.

What both of these records show is that Boz's voice has lost nothing as he's aged. In his seventies, he sounds like his younger self in both presence and range, and if anything he has become an even better, more nuanced, singer in maturity. 

A Fool To Care was a grand return to form, and showed a wide range of Boz'z musical interests from soul to blues to rock to Americana. From the country/blues stomp of Rich Woman to Al Green's soulful Full Of Fire to Rick Danko's Small Town Talk, the song selection is broad and excellent, and Boz and the band (Ray Parker, Jr., Willie Weeks, and Steve Jordan) nail it all. Guest appearance duets with Lucinda Williams (Whispering Pines) and Bonnie Raitt (Hell To Pay) add even more dimension to an already fine record.

The new Out Of The Blues is not quite the review of classic blues chestnuts that 1997's Come On Home was. Instead, it is a review of several newly minted blues chestnuts. About half the album is new songs from songwriter Jack Walroth, while the rest cover Bobby Blue Bland, Magic Sam, Jimmy Reed, and Neil Young. All four of Walroth's contributions are solid blues-rock with a funky edge. Scagg's slow burning take on Neil Young's On The Beach is a smoldering blues, and everything else works perfectly. The band again features Ray Parker, Jr. and Willie Weeks, plus Jim Keltner on drums, Doyle Bramhall II and Charlie Sexton on guitars, Jim Cox on keyboards, and Walroth on harmonica.

In the early part of the new century, Scaggs gave us two fine records of jazz standards, and they were super. Since then, these two and Memphis are a trifecta of late-career showstoppers that display the soulful voice and sophisticated blues and R&B that Scaggs has done as well as anyone during a career that spans five decades. It is very unusual for an artist to maintain work that rivals their best fifty years on, but Boz Scaggs does, and he does it in spades.