By James Calemine
The Booker T. Jones album–The Road From Memphis–follows his acclaimed release Potato Hole. Jones utilizes the Roots as his back-up band along with musical guests such as My Morning Jacket’s Jim James, Dennis Coffey and Lou Reed. Best known for his work with The Memphis group Booker T. & The MGs, Jones continues to record vital music.
The instrumental “Walking Papers” opens this disc with a chunky groove that flashes brilliance of Booker’s old band. Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” follows in another instrumental rendition. Jim James sings soulfully on the R & B number “Progress”. “The Hive” showcases amazing dexterity of the Roots and how Booker navigates the group with his keyboard work.
“Down In Memphis” resembles a classic groove by the Meters with smooth vocals by James. “Everything Is Everything” serves as another stellar instrumental that would sound good in any environment as would the tune “Rent Party”. A mellow “Representing Memphis” is a great modern day soul number.
“The Vamp” continues the instrumental thread that holds this collection together. Lou Reed sings on the album closer “The Bronx”. It’s one of the strongest, most soulful tracks on The Road From Memphis. Booker T. Jones cooks up a fresh batch of soulful music stew on these 11 songs.