It’s my opinion that “soul revivalist” is a bit of a misnomer. It implies that soul music went away, or that modern soul is either retro or nostalgic. But, though soul came to prominence in the ‘60s, its no more passé nor attached to a particular era than blues is. In fact, soul and blues are close-knit kin, with soul the more polished and often more hopeful sibling. Its horn hits and deep grooves give it a cool cache eclipsed only by its gut-wrenching, spirit-touching emotionalism.
And, while it could be argued that soul (like Elvis) is in everybody, it takes a certain type of voice to transform the song into an experience at once religious and carnal. A voice both pure and ragged, world-weary and tireless, gorgeously wrecked. Otis Redding had it. So did Etta James. And, as if born straight from the hearts and minds of those greats, Lee Fields (actually the N.C. native has been performing since the late ‘60s) carries on both the vocal stylings and the tradition.
As one music writer put it, “Lee Fields is the coolest motherf**ker to ever sing words into a microphone.” Test that theory for yourself: Fields & The Explosions (whose album, Faithful Man, was released earlier this year) play Asheville Music Hall on Thursday, Dec. 6. Sidney Barnes, backed by The Secret B-Sides, opens. 9 p.m., $12 in advance or $15 day of show.
Watch Fields perform “Stranded In Your Love,” (all Carla Thomas and Otis Redding-style) with Sharon Jones: