03 February 2017

ROBERT FiNLEY - Age Don't Mean A Thing

Facebook // Big  Legal Mess Records

And it don't. Age. Mean a thing. But then again, you get to a certain vintage, a grown-up age, and you think, on the inside, that you're twenty-seven, or thirty-three, or forty...but really...you're not. You're not even close. And it used to be that you could get away with it...but then your looks start to betray you, and your body forsakes you, and there you stand. Jilted. Old.

As Junior Kimbrough sang you, "Done Got Old." Grown up things matter now. When you listen to music you want to hear about grown people's problems. The grown-ass blues. Sung with a grown-folks soul, by someone who has been there and can maybe tell you what it's all about.

Experience. That's what 62-year-old Robert Finley brings to the game. He's qualified. He's bonafide. He'll satisfy. He's got grownassity. He goes to work. He gets the job done. He plays music for grown folks.

The title of the album is Age Don't Mean A Thing.

Robert Finley is a retired carpenter, army/music vet from Bernice, Louisiana, a tiny saw-mill town (pop. 1800) carved into the woods at the confluence of a number of state highways in the middle of northern Louisiana. After joining the Army at 17, he led an Army band, and as a young man it was not uncommon for him to play 6-8 hour gigs, but once out of the service, it was tough getting gigs, so he took up his father's carpentry trade. Unfortunately, after years of work as a craftsman, he began to lose his eyesight, so he turned to music. Now, at 63, Finley has released his first album, and it's a testament which proves that age really ain't nuthin' but a number, especially when it comes to music.

Listen, Robert "SlimFinley is no spring chicken (not that that matters, right?) and if he never did another album, Age Don't Mean A Thing would live on as a classic soul blues album. The kind of album they used to make in Memphis at Stax Records, or Hi Records, or further down south at Jackson, Mississippi's Malaco Records, by artists like O.V. Wright, ZZ Hill, Johnny Taylor, Bobby Bland, Howard Tate.

That's not to say Age Don't Mean A Thing is retro. It just is what it is. It's genuine. And it's a style of soul blues that I've been listening for- it's something a little rougher, a little tougher, a little brassier. It's dynamic, unslick and smooth, and Finley, with his crackin' band, plays like the vet he is.

The production is on point, thanks to BLM's Bruce Watson and Jimbo Mathus of his own bad self, the performances are committed and hot. It's really a tight, funky album, top to bottom. Some heartbreakers, some dance songs, some grooves...it's straight classic juke joint soul blues, and you know you need some of that. Look, you got your Sharon Jones' (RiP, bless her heart) your St. Paul's, your Nathaniel Rateliff's, Your Nigel Hall's, and many other's keeping the faith, keeping that soul ember alive....but Robert Finley comes from the wood that that ember was lit from, and he is keeping it lit.

Please y'all. Go buy Robert Finley's new album Age Don't Mean A Thing. Give him your money. It's a square deal all the way around. Cheers to all the goood people involved in making this album happen.

Really. Go buy it. Right here---> Big Legal Mess Records.

|||| Here's my spiel :: --->

1. I Just Want To Tell You rocks like an early Parliaments jam, because that's what it is. Kinda. The chorus, anyway. Robert Finley's original reworking of George Clinton's I Wanna Testify is just aching to be covered by a marching band. The horns are hot and swinging, the backup singers are rockin' like a squad, the organ's roiling, and the drums and bass are stomping it down. It's a backyard party and all y'all are invited!

2.  Age Don't Mean A Thing is a classic blues number, and while it's bottom is in Chicago, its head is in Memphis. Finley's band really shows on this one, helmed by the infamously renowned Jimbo Mathus, it features members of Memphis mainstays, or lynch-pins if you will- The Bo-Keys, plus a high profile set of Memphis vets like drummer Howard Grimes (who played with everybody from Al Green to O.V. Wright) to genre neighbors like Al Gamble of St. Paul And The Broken Bones on the keys, making for a hot, broad group of passionate believers. Somewhere, Bobby Blue Bland is dancing.

3. Let Me Be Your Everything is where Finley brings some the flavor of his native state of Louisiana. This one chugs and choogles, spicy with horns, and Jerry Lee-esque piano dressing. This one's for dancing, and workin' it out.

4. It's Too Late - A heartbreaking blues lamentation on ill-timed love.

5. Snake In The Grass is such a pretty soul blues, considering the subject matter.  A slow swinger with tasteful horn accents slipping into the yard, an organ on the porch, and a drummer in the bedroom. Funky, stankyass snakes.

6. Come On - Oh, yes! Indeed. Here's that funky FunKy shit. This is a summer bbq party jam!  Jimbo's band is hot, sexy, and slanky, and Finley directs and rides their dirty southern soul party grooves like the pro he is, the entertainer that he is. #thewayIlikeitisthewayitis #yougotsomethingthatIneed #comeon

7. Make It With You - Yes, it's that song by Bread, and Finley and his band do it such soulful justice. They bring out something in that song that I bet even David Gates didn't know was there. I love seeing a song so familiar turned towards the sun a little, and Finley's version has got that and some ardent Mississippi/Louisiana moonlight, too. A simply gorgeous version.

8. You Make Me Want To Dance is a rockin' shuffle that Southside Johnny should cover.

9. Is It Possible To Love 2 People - Wow. What a way to close an album. Finley asks the age-old question: Is it possible to love two people at the same time? Or are you losing your mind? You meet someone, and someone can't keep it all friendly and above board. You do know the difference between right and wrong, but next thing you know, they broke you down, and you're in trouble. The answer is yes, of course, it's possible, but someone ain't gonna like it. Life gets awkward, gets tricky, gets deep, and gets messy. Joyful, intimate, funky, and alright!
No matter how old you are.

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