Soulsville U.S.A. was the Memphis neighborhood where the great Stax label was located during the ‘60s and ‘70s, so it only makes sense that Huey Lewis & the News decided to call their album-length salute to Stax Soulsville, saluting a place that has, some 40 years later, turned into a state of mind. The group headed to Memphis to cut this 14-track album but since the Stax studio has long since shuttered, they went to Ardent, yet another legendary Memphis studio, to record with producer Jim Gaines, who helmed the band’s big ‘80s hits Sports and Fore! Not surprisingly, Soulsville winds up like a bunch of old friends having fun revisiting their favorite tunes. It’s an unhurried, affectionate tribute, the News riding grooves that are considerably cleaner than the classic Stax sides they love so much, but they nevertheless wind up with a warm, soulful vibe. They don’t reinvent or reinterpret these songs but stay true to the spirit of Stax, and what makes the album successful is that Huey Lewis & the News don’t choose the obvious tunes (only the Staple Singers’ “Respect Yourself” was a genuine crossover smash); they cherry-pick their favorite sides from the label’s deep catalog. It’s clear that the bandmembers love this music, and their love is infectious, making this a nice, relaxed good time.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine