To paraphrase an investment firm’s advertising slogan, Carl Weathersby is making it the old-fashioned way: by paying dues with an exhaustive touring schedule, regularly released product and total dedication to the art of the blues. In the process he’s gained increasing and well-deserved attention, not only from the press but from the record-buying public as well.
The prolific guitarist/vocalist continues his ways with Come to Papa, his fourth album in as many years. The spirit of Albert King and his Gibson Flying Vee lives on in Weathersby’s guitar work, with its slippery, bent-to-oblivion vibrato riffs, stinging high notes and occasional bassy runs. Nearly every song is a six-string showcase backed by the forceful rhythm-guitar patterns of Rico McFarland, Weathersby’s studio and onstage foil.
Lucky Peterson guests on Hammond B-3, piano and clavinet, and soul queen Ann Peebles adds background vocals to the title track, a funkified mid-tempo stomper with a mellifluous, deep-register lead vocal. "Leap of Faith" is a jazzy, rolling shuffle with melodic guitar lines, and an Al Green influence is apparent in "You Better Think About It," where Weathersby laments the loss of his woman and nearly threatens her to take him back.
Never one to allow himself to be restricted by the I-IV-V blues format, Weathersby infuses this disc with smooth, commercial R&B. "Help Me Somebody" reprises the slick soul of the ’70s, and "Floodin’ in California" is a four-on-the-floor dance cut. But blues purists may rejoice in the absence of the token hard-rock tune that was, until now, a part of every Weathersby recording.
All in all, Come to Papa is a very good record, proof that all that roadwork pays off.
— Bob Cianci