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Design By Humans
Published On: Tue, May 20th, 2014

Leon Russell: Life Journey

leon russellLeon Russell
Life Journey
(Universal Music)

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We get Robert Johnson’s boogie woogie piano popper “Come On In My Kitchen” with some slicing slide playing to open Life Journey, Leon Russell’s new album of covers. A slow, swinging cover of “Georgia On My Mind” is here as well, with big horns midway through, Russell’s wavery, spicey vocals, piano, bass and brush snare that move us along perfectly.

The countrified blues of a subtle, double snare beat and organ swirl under Russell’s piano and vocals on “That Lucky Old Sun,” while we are up and running with high-end keys, popping bass, slide and backing chorus on a jumpy cover of “Fever.” Yes, this one has been done plenty of times, but with its especially great organ lead the whole wild concoction works perfectly.

The ballad “Think of Me” has soft pedal steel accents, Russell’s poignant vocals, piano and soft upright bass. What a great read on this tune, very much like the arrangement on “I Really Miss You.” Strings swirl around and under a truly sad “I’m Afraid the Masquerade Is Over” and there is a big drum and horn take on Billy Joel’s  “New York State of Mind.” (I love what Russell is doing here on piano especially.)

“Fool’s Paradise” is a classic, true Russell-made cover with slightly behind the beat snare, blues piano, waggy vocals and “Down In Dixieland” certainly is. This one would be perfect on a riverboat, a great upbeat spicy New Orleans flavor of a ditty for closing this 12-song collection.

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Leon Russell: Life Journey