It could just as easily have been called It Came From Memphis, or Son of Memphis. For his second outing on Vizztone, Tony Holiday relocates his bluesy soul from back porch sessions around the country to a location famous for its swampy, soul drenched musical exports. Although the Memphis-based singer/harmonicist temporarily moved his body to Mississippi for his latest release, Soul Service, his sound is still as rich and chewy as the soul stew of his native land. Recorded at the Dickinson family’s (North Mississippi Allstars) Zebra Ranch studio in Independence, Mississippi, Soul Service delivers a laid-back but powerful sermon on non-churchy stuff.
“Good Advice” takes the advice Bo Diddley dispensed on “You Can’t Judge a Book by the Cover” a step farther, dredging up a handbook full of practical advice on how to deal with nearly every situation. Tips like “keep on going / if you know you’re right / a barking dawg is surely to bite / what’s done in the dark will surely come to the light” and so on are presented in a lackadaisical shuffle that makes it easy to absorb.
“Paying Rent on a Broken Heart” sounds like it rolled off The Fabulous Thunderbirds’ assembly line, down to the Kim Wilson-style harp and Jimmie Vaughan guitar looped around Holiday’s vocals.
“It’s Gonna Take Some Time” is newfangled swamp pop that replicates 1950s Louisiana classics like “Mathilda” and “Walking to New Orleans” that coined the term. It’s late-night, hold-on-tight, and sweat-and-sway-on-the-juke-joint-dance-floor music.
“Day Dates Turn Into Night Dates” is a swampy soul/country hybrid with a Charlie Pride accent, blurring the lines between a fistful of genres.
“She Knocks Me Out” goes back to T-Birds country, greasy rock you can slide around and snap your gum to, pausing to flick the Vitalis from your Jimmie Vaughan ducktail so it won’t stain your Levis when you’re struttin’ your stuff, prancing ’50s-style to the sultry beat.
Holiday’s got the right stuff, and he knows how to use it, spreading it out in small doses, tasty sound bites that hark back to the 45 rpm records that once proudly featured this vinyl-worthy music.