Bobby Rush with Blinddog Smokin’, Decisions (Silver Talon)

Bobby Rush, album cover, OffBeat Magazine, May 2014

Always entertaining, Bobby Rush with this release (and other recent CDs) is becoming the new millennium’s soul philosopher. Perhaps odd that a veteran R&B artist would address the ills of society (Mavis and Pops Staple also did it in the ’70s) but I guess it’s gotta come from all corners before things start to change.

Another Murder in New Orleans” (most of this CD was recorded in New Orleans) kicks things off here and is meant to be somewhat a of the album’s centerpiece. An uncomfortable, but sadly too real, subject for listener and performer, Dr. John duets here, but neither he or Rush sound exactly enthused about delivering the message.

Musically, the song wobbles around with a straight, un-Rush backing. Not exactly the kind of inviting song you want to open a CD with. Now, Decisions clearly contains an important social statement but it is less dramatic and arrives accompanied by a get-down backbeat that Rush often incorporates. The rest of the CD doesn’t dispense much life-changing advice as the telling “Bobby Rush’s Bus” indicates. Neither does “Funky Old Man,” which might just be the title of the latest chapter of Rush’s career.

The rhythmic “Stand Back” stands out as it incorporates everything from cha-cha to old-school rap—and a Bobby Rush warning to so-called players without game. (Now that’s a social statement.) As per-the-norm, Rush’s fixation with big-bottom girls again is a constant (he and Joe Tex wouldn’t have seen eye-to-eye) and obviously is the subject of the “Skinny Little Woman.” “Dr. Rush” also goes in that direction as rappin’ Bobby Rush points out that a knife and fork can derail most of the problems associated with hijacked love.

Never shy about “borrowing” lyrics or outright songs from others, Rush “boosts” Detroit, Jr.’s humorous “Call My Job”—retiling it “Too Much Weekend”—but dispensing Jr.’s clever ending. To sum things up, Decisions (with its accompanying DVD) is obviously recommended to Bobby Rush fans as well as those who like a good groove now and then. But the more casual listener can’t help but be more than slightly confused listening to the different directions this CD takes.