REVIEW: Devin B. Thompson “Tales of the Soul”is Soulful Ingredients Offered With Sincerity


Devin B. Thompson – Tales of the Soul

It’s nice to hear someone young tackle traditional soul music. While there aren’t many singers who journey down this road with a silky vocal, tight groove & beat, tasty background singers & well-arranged melodies, Devin does.

The opener (Bobby “Blue” Bland’s “Love to See You Smile” – written by David Ervin & Kenny Pierce) is a wonderful introduction to a singer who has the soulful ingredients offered with sincerity that dominated the 60s charts with masters like David Ruffin, Clyde McPatther, & Sam Cooke.

It’s not the hard-scrabble attack of Wilson Pickett, pleading love scenarios of Percy Sledge or Solomon Buke but it borders on Eddie Floyd at times. There is a richness despite not having the power of a Gene McDaniels, Brook Benton or Levi Stubbs. Devin doesn’t need it. He does possess a good low tone and expressive cognac voice. Little Milton’s “I’m Gonna Cry Me a River,” (written by Don Davis) features Robben Ford on lead guitar (as well as cut 9 “Read Your Mind”).

This sparkles & even skates along in the late 70s with Stevie Wonder intonation. Thompson knows how to squeeze notes, accentuate lyrics & delicately make the song go from cupcake to pastry.

11-cuts fill this Chicago soul/blues singer-songwriter’s Oct 30th release Tales of the Soul (Severn Records). The church influence is evident & it’s rooted more in that than a straight-ahead funk groove. It’s not a Motown or Stax soul either. It’s more spiritual. Joe Simon’s “Something You Can Do Today,” is smooth & the refined 4-piece brass section is warm. It comes off like a smaller Chicago-Blood, Sweat & Tears horn section than a Bar-Kays/Arthur Conley soul-finger unit. It’s all a refreshing program by Devin B. Thompson.

Recorded in Maryland the house band consists of co-producer Kevin Anker (musical director-pianist), Johnny Moeller (guitar), Benjie Porecki (organ), Steve Gomes (bass), Robb Stupka (drums) & features Mark Marella (percussion), Kenny Rittenhouse, Joe Donegan (trumpets), Antonia Orta (sax), Bill Holmes (trombone) & backup vocalists Caleb Green, Christal Rheams, Kennedy Thompson & Devin.

According to the PR the original “I Ain’t No Good,” started out as a Beatles-inspired song but reworked Thompson managed to energize it into a steady soul-stirrer with lots of commerciality. The old-fashioned whammy bar guitar solo doesn’t sound dated, it’s just right. “Get Home Tonight,” is steamy.

Devin Thompson has found the vintage source of great soul music & reinvigorated its potency & approach. I found these enjoyable the way I was thrilled by the 60s soul singers who laid down some of the greatest singles ever released. Devin joins that stack of records. The Coke replaced by Jack Daniels.

He has moments of Marvin Gaye suave richness & sultriness; Sam Cooke smoothness & Angelo Bond (“Bondage”) edge. That’s an accomplishment.

The 55-minute CD was produced by Anker, Devin & David Earl (Severn founder).

Leave a Reply!