A Fool To Care Review
They all do it at some stage of their careers:
And so it is with Boz Scaggs – which is why his latest offering hits the bullseye and completely gets it right.
Scaggs' newly released album A Fool to Care is quite simply a wonderful record.
Boz should do more of this. He has and he is, and he is doing it exceptionally well.
Following on from his critically acclaimed Memphis album of 2013, A Fool to Care takes another musical journey, this time from New Orleans, through the Mississippi delta, into Nashville and onto Chicago.
Two-thirds a covers album, its theme is to highlight great American music.
"We have taken two separate exploratory journeys with my last two albums," Scaggs says. "One was to Memphis with a very deliberate southern sound and now we have this one, which is Americana, blues and a lot of soul.
"The criteria for selecting songs are: what's going to work with my voice? – Number one. Then, what's interesting to us? And then it's what will people find interesting about our musical heritage? And that starts with New Orleans and travels on from there."
The "us" Scaggs refers to is the album's producer and drummer Steve Jordan.
"Steve and I met a dozen years or so ago on another project of mine and we connected really well," Scaggs says.
"I think at the time we both thought there was potentially more we could collaborate on some time in the future.
"And there was on these last two albums. And maybe there is a third. Let's take one step at a time.
"I'm not being immodest but I think my voice is better than it's ever been. I've got this voice inside my head like I think it should sound and I think I'm getting closer to that sound.
"And I think I'm seeing it all better now than I have in the past. I'm hitting my stride now.
"When we work on an album like this we're looking for songs that are interesting to us. To do it together with Steve – go through numbers that we like – it really gets exciting.
"In the past I had a trio I was working with and we played hundreds and hundreds of songs. We really found songs we loved to play.
"In that regard I found another compatriot with Steve Jordan."
In addition to Jordan, Scaggs is backed on the record by other outstanding musicians, including guitarist Ray Parker Jr, Jim Cox on keyboard and bassist Willie Weeks.
The rhythm section was put down in just four days but "there was a lot more work done before that" and then Scaggs does his thing.
"I don't play too much guitar where I'm recording," he says.
"I concentrate more on the singing in the studio. I guess I'm somewhat intimidated by the company I keep in the studio. They are all such great musicians.
"I tend to go home with what we've done and put my guitar in there."
The dozen tracks on the album feature songs formerly written and/or recorded by Al Green, the Impressions, Fats Domino, the Spinners, and the Band, just to mention a few.
The Band's Whispering Pines stands out from the rest in that it is more countrified than the other tracks but also because it is recorded as a beautiful duet with the brilliant Lucinda Williams.
"I'll say she is brilliant. Lucinda and I did a TV project together a couple of years ago and there was a good working chemistry there," Scaggs says.
"We thought we should look for another opportunity to work together and this was it." The other outstanding guest artist on the album is the equally impressive Bonnie Raitt.
She duets with Boz on the album's only Scaggs composition, Hell to Pay, and she also lays down her instantly recognisable slide guitar for the number.
"Bonnie and I live in the same general area and have known each other for years, but we have never worked together," he says.
"I wrote much of the song with her in mind – both as a duet on vocals and guitar. I've always rated her very highly."
When it comes to writing songs and having hits, Scaggs has done it all.
Massive hits of the 1970s like Lido, What Can I Say and Lowdown Shuffle, all from the multi-platinum album Silk Degrees, made Boz Scaggs a household name.
His distinctive voice drew an instant fan base across the world that won't allow him to get away without revisiting those great hits from his early years.
"I find that those songs were pretty well written. They have longevity," he says.
"I never play the same song twice. It might sound to you like I do, but I don't. I always put my own little twist on them to keep them fresh.
"In Australia last year I really had a good trip and tour. I think I kind of resonated. It is one of my favourite places in the world to travel to. I'm very open to coming back soon."
Posted: Thursday 14 May 2015