Mighty Sam McClain, Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey) (City Hall Records)

Mighty Sam McClain, Too Much Jesus (Not Enough Whiskey), album cover

With a great title and a tight band, Mighty Sam McClain’s latest record is a fine work that shows off the smooth quality of his voice with horn-driven modern blues and rhythm and blues. McClain’s voice shows no sign of slowing down. He is a member of the O.V. Wright, Solomon Burke and Bobby “Blue” Bland School with his voice staking the middle ground between emotion and restraint. In fact his voice has that Bobby Blue Bland timbre with less reediness.[iframe class="spotify-right" src="https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:album:5EcWsjrwl6MpOx9IqU6m9k" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"] Buy on AmazonBuy on iTunes
His timing is still impeccable as he responds to the horns in the last part “Feels So Good – Feels So Right” and then builds a slow pleading simmer in “Tears.” But there are also upbeat numbers such as the punchy horns and stinging guitar fills of “Stand Up!” In terms of production, McClain and his band also straddle the fine line. Most rhythm and blues recordings made these days are either in making their sound too down-home and raw or so produced that it sounds like it was made in a sterile, airless room with automatons. Here McClain and band have enough of a real instrument groove that will please the old school fans with a modern enough sound that will please urban soul fans. And in the soon to classic title track, McClain complains over a slinky groove about a born-again, reformed drinker with a great sense of humor and no clichéd sentiments. It’s this abundance of great vocals and groove without such clichés that makes Too Much Jesus (not Enough Whiskey) a success.