Given the backwoods surrealism and shifting musical textures of most of his work, Jim White is not a guy who often comes off as playful or joyous, but those are two words that easily describe White's collaboration with the Athens, Georgia roots band the Packway Handle Band, 2014's Take It Like a Man. White and the Packway Handle Band are mutual admirers, and when White stepped in to produce an album for the group, he brought along a set of bluegrass-influenced tunes he'd written. The project turned into a co-starring effort, and the meet-up brings out the best in all parties concerned.
Major labels proved not to be a welcome fit for retro-soul-blues revivalist Eli "Paperboy" Reed. Neither Come and Get It!, his 2010 album for Capitol, nor 2014's gussied-up wannabe crossover Nights Like This brought in the wider audience they so desperately worked to attain, leaving the guitarist to pursue an indie direction for 2016's My Way Home. The title makes it plain that Reed believes he's the prodigal son returning to his roots and, fittingly, My Way Home has a considerable gospel bent in its 11 songs. Since 2013, Reed has been teaching an after-school program called Gospel for Teens in Harlem and that sensibility infuses My Way Home, turning the record into a testament to reconnecting to R&B roots of all kinds.
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