By Thomas Conner
© Tulsa World
"Face in the Crowd"
Ol' Leon's voice is just barely hanging in there, crusty
and clogged and in need of some vocal Liquid Plumr. That's
never handicapped Bob Dylan or Neil Young, and whether or
not you think Russell measures up to those comparisons,
"Face in the Crowd" at least pushes that old, gravelly voice
of his hard enough to make it stand out in a crowd again.
His testosterone-fueled howlings in "Dr. Love" cop some
much-needed sexiness from Dr. John's bag of tricks. His
growling ups and downs in "So Hard to Say Goodbye" restore
some of the spunk of his hit-making days, too. Unlike his
last record, the third "Hank Wilson" incarnation, "Faces" isn't
rushed as much it sounds eager and comfortable — and seeing
or hearing a comfortable Leon is a special treat. Russell
could still benefit from the control and finesse of a smart
producer — the arrangements and recording of son Teddy Jack
tend to gum up in the speakers — but by reviving his
distinct songwriting voice, Russell is assured to remain
clearly identifiable in the crowd.
These online "clips" reproduce a self-selection of my journalism (music etc) during the last 20+ years. It's a lotta stuff, but it only scratches the surface. I do not currently possess the time or resources to digitize the whole body of work. These posts are simply a bunch of pretty great days at the office.