Andy Fairweather Low

Sweet Soulful Music

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Andy Fairweather Low's first solo album in 26 years, Sweet Soulful Music retains the charm of the long out of print trio of discs he released on A&M in the mid- to late '70s. Those albums sadly, but perhaps not surprisingly, flew under the radar in the States because their straightforward and very British charisma was out of sync with the slick dance and hard rock scenes that were then popular. But Low's approach has pretty much stayed unchanged, so this delightful set of 14 tunes isn't likely to garner much more attention. That's a shame because the singer/guitarist has tapped into a minimalist, engaging groove that feels as comfortable as sinking into an old easy chair. Credit noted producer Glyn Johns -- who worked on 1975's La Booga Rooga and 1976's Be Bop 'N' Holla -- for taking a hands-off attitude here by leaving space for Low's spare, gospel-laced soul. The singer's voice exudes a distinctive scratchy quality that works perfectly with these sparse yet hooky melodies. After kicking off with the rockabilly-ish "One More Rocket," Low settles into a mid-tempo folkish pop/soul that owes more than a few nods to J.J. Cale. There's a leisurely hip swaying, bluesy feel to songs such as "I Don't Need" that's organic and as far from pretentious as they come. Some of the lyrics drift towards a subtle spirituality that comes alive on the upbeat gospel of the title track. This is loose, relaxed but far from sloppy, and Low sounds like he's having a ball, even on the touching ballads. "When I Grow Too Old to Dream," the album's only cover, is presented as a waltz with accordion, and provides a warm coda for a modest gem of a comeback that deserves more of an audience than it is likely to receive.

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