Syl Johnson

Hands of Time

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This late '90s album finds Syl Johnson in as fine voice as ever. Johnson and co-producers Johnny Moore and Morris Williams utilize a range of electronic keyboards, synthesizers and programmed drums. But no amount of studio gadgetry will ever disguise Johnson's unabashedly soulful voice. He wrings passion out of every song here, co-writes nearly all of the material, and positively bristles with strutting enthusiasm.

The title track, with its layered background choruses, harks back to the heyday of early '70s soul music with style and verve. It's particularly instructive to hear Johnson in this setting and compare it to his work with Willie Mitchell and Hi Records. Approaches and stylistic differences aside, Syl Johnson's emotive singing remains a constant throughout his long and worthy career.

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