Darrell Nulisch

I Like It That Way

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As a vocalist for hire, Texas born Darrell Nulisch has worked with the likes of Otis Grand, Anson Funderburgh, James Cotton, and Ronnie Earl, lending his gritty honeyed voice to a variety of blues styles, however Nulisch's love for Southern R&B of the Bobby Blue Bland/O.V. Wright style is best experienced on his solo albums. On his fourth release, the soul-driven singer/songwriter and under-appreciated harp player dives in and doses out ten stunning tracks of pure rhythm and blues gold. The Stax horns and bubbling organ of the album's opening blast, a cover of Ann Peebles' "I'm Gonna Tear Your Playhouse Down" (the main protagonist is changed to female with reworked lyrics and an altered title of "You Tore My Playhouse Down") set the stage for this dynamic album. Nulisch's voice yearns and cries, backed by a full soul ensemble that gives the song plenty of breathing room. Like Robert Cray's similar approach on his late '90s releases, Nulisch keeps the predominantly midtempo tunes on a low boil, never overwhelming the material with excess clutter. He even downplays his own harmonica skills, relegating harp solos to only a few tracks. Covers of Otis Redding's "Trick or Treat," Otis Rush's "Mean Old World," B.B. King's "Worried Dream" and Junior Parker's "I Like Your Style" nestle comfortably next to Nulisch's, and longtime co-songwriter and bassist Steve Gomes', compositions. In fact, the pair's originals are often as strong as their classic covers. Not since the heyday of Hi Records in the late '60s has an artist so effectively conveyed the hurt, sorrow and pride that Darrell Nulisch embodies in every song here. He is one of the most expressive singers in his admittedly limited genre, and I Like It That Way is a sumptuous example of his striking talents.

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