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Barrence Whitfield and the Savages

Dig Thy Savage Soul

Barrence Whitfield and the Savages
5
This is the second album in two years from Boston-based legendary R&B firestarter Barrence Whitfield. It's also the tenth full-length from a 58-year-old who came to prominence in the late '80s, with a string of invigorating releases that easily pre-date most of the buzz-garnering garage punk acts of the past few years. Thankfully, for traditionalists, Whitfield hasn't lost any of his trademark gusto, howling his way through all 12 of the album's visceral romps. In fact, he doesn't mess with the formula whatsoever. Dig Thy Savage Soul, like many of Whitfield's releases, is greater than the sum of its parts. We've all heard the standard blues progression from "My Baby Didn't Come Home" in some form previously, and the dramatic rise and fall of "I'm Sad About It" is, sonically speaking, nothing much to write home about. Like most of Dig Thy Savage Soul, "Hangman's Token" recycles the tricks that a thousand '50s rock'n'roll-influenced lounge singers have used. At his age though, you can't blame Whitfield, but that doesn't necessarily mean he should be lumped in with the lot of them. What Whitfield lacks in originality he makes up for with a tireless push to the end zone. Each of the sock-hop-ready horns and riff after sweaty, penetrating riff is complemented at first by Whitfield's husky croon — ultimately, as on "Bread," his croon evolves into a hearty, engaging shriek. You wouldn't think after years of performing and assaulting his vocal chords that Whitfield would be able to muster up the chops, but he does. It's enough of an effort to make Dig Thy Savage Soul rewarding. (Bloodshot)
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