Various Artists

I Believe to My Soul

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In the mighty annals of soul history, few regions can compare with the Southern states in terms of output and contributions. Countless names (and obscure anonymous dusties) along with signature warm and up-front productions have made Southern soul an almost instantly identifiable sound. What makes I Believe to My Soul so intriguing is that it's been nearly five decades in the making -- with an interweaving of five soul juggernauts who cross paths yet again in their careers to record new versions of older material. Producer Joe Henry assembled Ann Peebles, Irma Thomas, Mavis Staples, Allen Toussaint, and Billy Preston together over the span of a week and invited them in for recording sessions. Much like those records of yesterday, the results are immediately warm, inviting, and highly intimate; even with the advancements in technology and digital culture, these songs transcend ones and zeros and sound like they were committed to analog tape. Even decades on from their creative primes of life, these five artists prove that age ain't nothing but a number -- they riff and jam with one another as if they were returning to the fountain of youth. It's an ambitious set that is pulled off with class and grace, and one that hopefully will see a follow-up in the near future.

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