Album: Solomon Burke, Like a Fire (Pinnacle)

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The Independent Culture

The King of Rock and Soul's last album Nashville didn't, as far as I recall, get a UK release, but Like a Fire continues its clear country orientation with a satisfying set of country-soul performances, ranging from the almost swamp-funk gospel of Ben Harper's "A Minute to Rest and a Second to Pray" at one extreme to "If I Give My Heart to You", a torch-song in the pioneering black-country tradition established by Ray Charles, at the other.

The album's early stages are its best, with the beacon-seeking title-track – a gentle acoustic number written by Eric Clapton along similar lines (and chords) to "Wonderful Tonight", followed by Keb' Mo's uplifting poverty plaint "We Don't Need It", in which a man on his uppers is reassured by his family that they can do without costly fripperies because "all we need is you".

Best of all is "The Fall", a portrait of a once-proud man broken by circumstance, reflecting how "a flame can burn out, if things don't turn out". Burnished with subtle pedal steel, it's a movingly adult performance, recounted by Burke with the minimum of flamboyance and maximum emotion.

Pick of the album:'The Fall', 'We Don't Need It', 'Like a Fire', 'A Minute to Rest and a Second to Pray'