When I caught the irrepressible Lee Fields and his Expressions at South by Southwest back in March, I described their set as "deeply expressive, authentic soul music, with a crack horn section, a completely remarkable bass player/band leader, and pitch-perfect, anguished soul shouting from Mr. Fields about his love for ladies and the struggle of being a 'Faithful Man' (that’s the title of his latest record and its especially outstanding titular track)." Since then, Faithful Man has indeed shaped up to be one of my favorite records of the year. Freelancer Chris Parker spoke with Mr. Fields — a crooner who understandably receives frequent comparisons to The Godfather of Soul — and put together a feature for us in advance of tonight's show at Mercy Lounge. Here's a little excerpt from Parker's piece.
As the '90s began, retro-soul enthusiasts grew in number, encouraged in part by hip-hop sampling and the British crate-digging "Northern Soul" craze. Fields was back to work, but feeling increasingly straitjacketed by the James Brown comparisons.
"It was an advantage in the beginning," Fields says. "James was so hot, so it was easy to work. But that soon became an albatross. [I realized] in order for me to be me, I'm going to have to knock down this wall I'm imprisoned behind being another man. That was a hard thing. I just couldn't settle for that. Thank God I met up with The Expressions."
Fields is referring to his backing band, who he calls his "musical sons." They rescued him when he was in danger of being left behind in Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings' dust. Jones was one of the backup singers when Gabriel Roth and Phillip Lehman started Desco in 1998 to release a soul 45, "Let a Man Do What He Wanna Do," featuring Fields.
The Right Now and Nashville's own Magnolia Sons open. Doors are at 8 p.m., and it'll run you $15. See the rest of Mr. Parker's feature here.