Oscar Toney, Jr.


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Guilty Review

by Richie Unterberger

Originally issued on the small BGR label in 2001 as Guilty of Loving You, this 2006 CD reissue retitled it Guilty: A Southern Soul Renaissance adds historical liner notes with an overview of Oscar Toney, Jr.'s career. Recorded in 2000, it pretty much picks up where the singer left off in his 1960s and '70s recordings. It's upbeat Southern soul, with a few slower, pained ballads (notably "Guilty of Loving You," with the churchy keyboards so common to those sort of Southern soul pieces) varying the pace. Toney, Jr.'s voice -- at times slightly reminiscent of Otis Redding's, though with a less gritty flavor -- has only slightly coarsened with time. For a soul album that tries to capture a style that peaked several decades before it was produced, it's considerably above the average: it has a live, unforced, natural sound, and the modern instrumental and production touches that often dampen the spirits of such veteran outings are virtually absent. The material's only adequate, however, and sometimes a little worse than that.

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