On 2008's Roll with You, Eli "Paperboy" Reed came across like the male equivalent of Joss Stone, a young white soul singer with the requisite blend of fire and ice.
On this major-label debut, sadly, the fire and ice have created something tepid. The arrangements are still faithful to the classic soul grammar, with clipped guitar figures, emphatic brass, etc, but Reed's voice lacks the extremity of character required to drive the songs: he doesn't have the gripping emotional impact of a Van Morrison, that sense of demons being stirred beneath the surface. The result is a set of neatly-tailored but ultimately routine blue-eyed soul ranging from the strutting boogie "Tell Me What I Wanna Hear" to the uptempo gospel clapalong "You Can Run On", the outstanding moment of which comes with the title-track's funk-bass groove.
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