Published Feb 17, 2016We last heard from acclaimed blues/soul veteran Johnny Rawls on 2014's Soul Brothers, a collaboration with late great soul singer Otis Clay. Tiger In A Cage is another solid effort that again finds Rawls combining soul and blues styles with a graceful ease.
He leads off with the title track, one that turns out to be the best cut here; it's prime Southern soul featuring plaintive trumpet, female backing vocals and a solid groove, plus socially conscious lyrics. Most of the songs here are Rawls originals, often co-written with bassist Bob Trenchard, and though lyrics aren't his strongest suit — they're too often based around very predictable rhymes — the songwriting is strong. One of the best originals is "Southern Honey," featuring Eden Brent for the male/female duet dynamic. Well-chosen covers here include Jackie Wilson's "Your Love Is Lifting Me," Sam Cooke's "Having A Party" and the Stones' "Beast Of Burden," and all are given a fresh treatment.
Horns are used extensively and adeptly, and both the musicianship here and the production work of the famed veteran Jim Gaines (Santana, John Lee Hooker, Stevie Ray Vaughan) are top-notch. (Catfood)