Often artists are able to express their best works when put in a familiar environment, where knowing who they are working with make them feel even more at ease and capable to release their talent in full stretch.
It is, in some way, what happened on the brand new record of the American veteran saxophonist, guitarist and singer/songwriter Jimmy Carpenter, called Soul Doctor, a record where Carpenter, more than in any of his previous solo albums, was able to display his many abilities as a musician in a truly outstanding high standard.
Self-produced by Carpenter himself, Soul Doctor works as a complete and ultimate statement of the American artist's musical skills, where Blues, Soul, Boogie, R&B, Funk and Midwest Blues/Rock meet all together in a breathtakingly beautiful sonic kaleidoscope able to capture the attention of the listener through the whole length of the record.
Releasing Soul Doctor with Gulf Coast Records, it meant that Carpenter could reacquaint also with his old fellow musician friend Mike Zito (co-owner of the label), with whom he had worked in the past as a member of The Wheel (Zito's band) and numerous other occasions.
While Zito added his musicianship on some of the album's tunes and worked as chief master of the record too, Carpenter had called also a tried-and-true crew of excellent studio musicians and familiar faces to play on the record, like his own Bender Brass band (formed by Carpenter himself, Mark Earley on baritone sax and Doug Woolverton on trumpet), Red Young on keys, Cameron Tyler on drums, percussion and background vocals and Jason Langley on bass, just to mention a few.
The ten songs included into Soul Doctor are all packed with sonic or lyrical elements of joy, fun, positive vibes, solid grooves and infectious bridges and choruses, displaying in all its beauty the maturity and the artistry of that splendid multi-instrumentalist artist that is Jimmy Carpenter.
With Carpenter penning seven of the ten songs (some of them co-written with the record label's co-owner Guy Hale) included in the American artist's new album, what also impresses on Soul Doctor is the magnificent array of vocal skills showcased by Carpenter. From the sassy slow Blues of Need Your Love So Bad to the swaggering, explosive, foot-stomping Blues/Rock tune that is Wrong Turn, Carpenter manages to raise the quality of his latest body of work even more, by delivering not only extraordinary solos on saxophone but also some of the most remarkable vocal deliveries of his whole career to date.
There is also Carpenter's love for the 50's and 60's written all around Soul Doctor, as displayed in tunes like Wild Streak, a Boogie of such high quality, both lyrically and musically that even perhaps Fats Domino would have easily approved, or in the notes of When I Met You, a song that originally was written as a country bluegrass song and then completely transformed in a pure Memphis Soul tune, completed and embellished even more by the splendid work on horns made by the Bender Brass band.
Wanna Be Right, a song inspired, apparently, by a question that Mike Zito asked once to Carpenter about "Do You Want To Be Right Or Do You Want To Be Happy?" is a fuel-charged Funky tune, where all of Carpenter's swagger is showcased in full evidence, thanks to a superb performance of the American artist as a vocalist and as a player, together with all the studio musicians involved in the recording of the song.
There couldn't have been a better fitting closing track of the album than Eddie Hinton's cover of Yeah Man, on Soul Doctor. Carpenter, who has always loved and respected Hinton's body of work throughout the whole of Hinton's career, here chisels a superb rendition of this classic with a vocal performance of timeless beauty, confirming Carpenter as one of the most complete and versatile artists of the Blues, Soul and Blues/Rock contemporary music scene.
In the title-track that opens the album, Carpenter sings that "The Doctor gets you through the night, he'll save you every time....". Given the fact that every respectable music lover needs a proper Soul Doctor, at this moment in time there are not many Soul Doctors out there able to provide you with the right musical prescription better than Jimmy Carpenter.
Soul Doctor is out now and it is available for purchase at Jimmy Carpenter's Official Website