Album: Al Green, Lay It Down (Blue Note)

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The Independent Culture

Producers from Arthur Baker to Al B Sure have striven to find a more potent vehicle for Al Green's ecstatic falsetto than that originally devised in the early Seventies by Willie Mitchell, characterised by the occasional prompt of horns or organ against that trademark flat snare, clipped guitar and discreet curtain of strings.

Having rejoined Mitchell for 2003's I Can't Stop and its 2005 follow-up Everything's OK, on Lay It Down the greatest living soul singer tries again to update his sound by hooking up with James Poyser and Ahmir Thompson, the Soulquarians team behind Common, D'Angelo and The Roots. And it's not bad, the duo subtly augmenting Mitchell's formula with more modern R&B touches and bringing in simpatico talents like Anthony Hamilton, John Legend and Corinne Bailey Rae to duet. Hamilton's deep-south country-soul chops make for a particularly effective match on the title track and "You've Got the Love I Need". But, as ever, the main shortcoming is Green's material, which remains a series of clichés hovering between romantic and religious devotion, falling either way as circumstances demand.

Pick of the album:'Lay It Down', 'No One Like You', 'You've Got the Love I Need'