Jeffrey Halford & The Healers – Soul Crusade
With a voice that’s rootsy in a Dr. John fashion Jeffrey Halford kicks off his CD with a mellow, nicely laid out groove on “Another Skyline.” The music isn’t cut with intensity but a vocal that possesses superb conversational veneer as his press release outlines. It’s an easy-going listen that has an intricate weave in songs like “Take It Slow,” that simmers in a J.J. Cale mode.
There’s a confident tightness to the band. They may be from California, but they have a New Orleans-type swampy bluesy rock sound from head to foot. Their 40-minute Soul Crusade (Drops Sept 23–Floating Records) was produced by Jeffrey Halford & it resonates in a slow burn through piano underpinnings, steamy organ fills & guitar embroidery.
Not all songs are heady, heated, or refried. It’s the solid performance by the musicians & Halford’s warmly decorated voice that appeals throughout. The 11-songs are carefully polished though the genre has been explored deeply before Halford has the goods. There’s a lack of imitation though at times (“Kitchen Door”) they tread the style of Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes. But it’s done unceremoniously allowing Halford & his cohorts to push their own rootsy approach.
“Sinner Man,” is exquisite. Dramatic, dark, Tony Joe White-John Hammond swampy & performed with a Tom Waits gossamer. Halford fills the songs with lots of atmosphere similar to Canada’s Tom Wilson (“Burned Out Car,” “Shine”).
Soulfulness is unveiled in “Walk To The River,” sweetened with a just a touch of a female aching vocal. Not overblown. It’s a well-conceived tune. Gospel with an acoustic guitar instead of heavy church organ. Nicely played. By this junction the Dr. John sound is replaced by Halford’s own soulful gusto, humidity & glimmer. “Pescadero,” lightens up but maintains the groove & here the church organ swings in.
Halford rocks with “Devil” where he fills the piece with clever lyrics, a tight performance, hot female vocalizing in an impressive showcase. This is how I remember rock music. Jeffrey & his band cooks like he’s at a Texas barbecue. Definite headphone listening. As for the lovely tune “Sad Sinking Feeling,” the melody’s a little too close to an old classic Neil Young country melody-line for me.
Musicians – Adam Rossi (drums/keys/co-producer), Bruce Kaplan (lap slide), Tom Heyman (multi-instrumentalist), Preacher Boy & Mark Karan.
Highlights — “Pie-Eyed Poet’s Plea,” “Sinner Man,” “Walk to the River,” “Devil,” & “Picture In My Mind.”
Photo courtesy of Adam Rossi. CD @ https://jeffreyhalford.com/