ARTIST: Al Green
TITLE: Lay It Down
RELEASE DATE: May 27, 2008
WEB DEBUT: April 28, 2008
ONE-LISTEN VERDICT: Lay It Down, produced by ?uestlove and James Poyser, has been a hotly anticipated album for a while now–and thankfully, it’s pretty good. It’s sort of a strange listen, as the tracks that lack neo-soul guest stars sound like they’re lifted directly from the Willie Mitchell/Hi Records era that Green is most widely known for. The nearly ever-present Dap-King Horns? Check. Solid session guys on guitar and bass? Yep. I could have lived without John Legend’s cameo or the duet between Green and Corinne Bailey Rae, although Anthony Hamilton’s appearances were welcome.
Maybe it’s the long lead time stoking my anticipation, but Down didn’t have many “Wow” moments–it’s a good album, but one that may be a little forgettable in the long-term. Closing track “Standing In The Rain” is the closest to a real highlight; it’s upbeat and layers some hot guitar licks over the swelling horns. It seems wrong to complain about a solid Al Green album (and maybe I’m preparing myself for the stampede of critics ready to proclaim Lay It Down the album of the year), so I’ll just say that in the end, I’m happy to hear Al returning to his classic sound–even if the results might be a bit too safe.