Recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, The Royal Sessions sees classic rocker Paul Rodgers -- first known as the lead singer of Free, best-known as the frontman of Bad Company and later a Freddie Mercury substitute in Queen -- paying tribute to his beloved '60s Southern soul. Rodgers set up camp in Memphis and surrounded himself with many veteran Memphis soul musicians, cutting a collection of deep soul covers -- primarily tunes released or recorded at Stax, sometimes songs that were made at Muscle Shoals -- that remain faithful to the spirit and arrangements of the originals. This familiar sound pushes the spotlight onto Rodgers' vocals and he's in good form, never pushing the songs too hard but retaining his signature raspy swagger. The Royal Sessions makes clear just how much Rodgers learned from classic soul -- there are phrasings and runs reminiscent of songs he cut with both Free and Bad Company -- but the lighter setting shines a different light on these comfortable moves, making them fresher while also illustrating his debt to this style. Most of all, The Royal Sessions is enjoyable: it sounds like Rodgers is having a good time, so it's easy to have a good time too.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine