Ellis Hooks,
Another Saturday Morning
(Evidence, 2007)

Ellis Hooks' raspy tenor belongs to another time, a time when the soul charts were dominated by Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, a time when Stax Volt put out astonishing records that featured crisp horn sections and big, aggressive vocals that made even the most profound soul cliches sound new and fresh.

Hooks would have been right at home back then and would have probably become a major star. He fills the space with his voice, which sounds like a cross between a growl and a prayer and, if his lyrics are not always strikingly original, they are well within the soul tradition; he sings of love and life, of hope and longing. In "Your River" he uses the metaphor of crossing a river to describe getting close to the right woman, while "This Great Feeling" eschews metaphor altogether, for direct statement.

The arrangements are varied and rich. Horns fill some of the backings, while others rely on harmonicas or Hammond organs to flesh out the guitars and the rhythm section. The attention paid to the arrangements means that the album never, as so many do, develops a sense of sameness. Hooks suits his singing to the arrangements, crooning to the guitar tracks, growling with the horns and spitting out the lyrics on "Don't Come Running Back," a song dominated by Mason Casey's aggressive harp playing.

Another Saturday Morning provides a lot of pleasure. It's a throwback to a better musical time, one in which Ellis Hooks is right at home.

review by
Michael Scott Cain

1 November 2008

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