Boz Scaggs is as soulful as ever on his latest album, A Fool To Care. It is a deft and very entertaining recording, with great production from Steve Jordan, excellent musical accompaniment from a core group that includes Jordan on drums, Willie Weeks on bass, Ray Parker, Jr. on rhythm guitar, and Jim Cox on keyboards. There are horns, strings, and special guests who add just the perfect spark to the songs as needed.
Two of these guests in particular, Bonnie Raitt and Lucinda Williams, provide delightful duets with Scaggs. Raitt adds a sassy voice and adds slide guitar on the wry “Hell to Pay,” a stinging yet humorous commentary on political and social corruption. Another great female artist, Lucinda Williams adds yearning vulnerability to the touching vocal on The Band’s “Whispering Pines,” a song about hope on the verge of despair that is hauntingly beautiful here.
But these are not the only highlights of the album. In fact, every song shines. Scaggs gets funky with “Rich Woman,”a song that Li’l Millet & the Creoles recorded decades ago. He gets endearingly personal with “Small Town Talk,” and channels Motown on The Impressions’ “I’m So Proud.” Then he easily masters the Latin flavor of the dramatic “Last Tango of 16th Street” and danceable “I Want to See You.” With the help of guest guitarist Reggie Young he turns in a sizzlingly sexy rendition of Al Green’s “Full of Fire.” Guest Paul Franklin on steel guitar underscores the powerful, menacing “There’s a Storm A’Comin’.” Things then lighten up and get frisky with Huey “Piano” Smith’s classic “High Blood Pressure” before turning to classic Philly soul for The Spinners’ “Love Don’t Love Nobody.” The title song, “A Fool To Care,” get an appropriately laid-back, New Orleans rendering.
It all seems so effortless. Everything is flawless, from the production values to the band to Scaggs’ voice. Nobody seems to be trying very hard and yet everything is perfect. This is an album that you will enjoy from the moment you first listen to it, and will return to time and again. It will provide a rich listening experience for fans of soul, blues, jazz, and pop, as well as for those who have followed Scaggs throughout his long career and those who are discovering him for the first time.
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