Theodis Ealey is a powerfully expressive singer and versatile guitarist with a string of fine albums this decade. This is his most traditionally bluesy release to date. Ealey freely admits an affection for a variety of musical genres, including soul, rock and country/western. These influences are transparent in his sound, which, as on "Youíre Killing My Love," even crosses into Marshall-Tucker Band-styled Southern rock
Ealey often performs familiar covers, but his arrangements usually create a refreshing approach to these well-worn tunes. Raw opens with a rendition of Dylanís "Meet Me in the Morning," a song whose lyrics are ripe for a plaintive blues arrangement, and itís one of the highlights. Another case in point is his arrangement of Willie Nelsonís "Funny How Time Slips Away," a bluesy ballad made new again by Ealeyís soulful voice and weeping guitar leads. Likewise for his treatment of Ivory Joe Hunterís classic "Since I Met You Baby."
And how can you go wrong with a song titled "All My Baby Left Me Was a Note, My Guitar and a Cookie Jar," lyrics like "She took the pictures from the wall and the jacks from the telephone?" Thatís the blues, baby. Ealey closes the set with a tender self-penned ballad titled "A Song to My Daughter" that is part schmaltz and all heart. Raw is a well balanced, appealing album.
ó Jack Oudiz