(Easy Eye Sound ***½ stars)
The title is pretty fanciful, but when you don’t release your debut album until you’re 64, you can afford to have some fun. That debut, 2016’s fittingly titled Age Don’t Mean a Thing, introduced Robert Finley as a soul-bluesman with a sure mastery of classic forms and an all-around talent as singer, writer, and guitarist.
For this follow-up, the Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach has taken over as producer after employing Finley on his soundtrack to the graphic novel Murder Ballads. Auerbach also wrote or cowrote all the songs (including one with John Prine and one with Nick Lowe). The result is a set that stretches Finley’s range a bit without sacrificing any of the Louisiana native’s gritty authenticity.
“Get It While You Can” and “Medicine Woman” open the album with more horn-stoked, vintage-sounding R&B. But “Three Jumpers” finds Finley diving into raw, low-down blues, while “If You Forget My Love” and “Honey, Let Me Stay the Night” turn to buoyant pop-soul, with the latter’s playful pleading highlighting Finley’s lighter side. “You Don’t Have to Do Right” builds into a propulsive roadhouse romp, with a trademark twangy guitar solo by Duane Eddy, and the hymnlike “Holy Wine” brings the obligatory gospel touch, as Finley’s gruff voice rises sublimely into falsetto, ending the album on a high note in more ways than one. — Nick Cristiano
Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho
(Grand Hustle/Epic/Cactus Jack/Quality Control ***)
Huncho Jack consists of interloper Travis Scott (who vocalizes at a brisker pace here than on his Auto-Tune-drenched solo outings) and pioneer Quavo (who slows down a bit, his signature triplet-laced flow with Migos rarely employed). So they meet in the middle on these easy-tempoed, slightly psychedelic trap odysseys. At its best, Huncho Jack, Jack Huncho finds the two robotically harmonizing to rather beautiful effect on the title track and the lovely closer “Best Man,” which turns counting bands into a bromance. At just 41 minutes, there isn’t much room to get dull, a good thing when you consider Scott’s bloated but not charmless debut Rodeo. But you do wish that moments as surprising as the Otis Redding sample that opens the proceedings weren’t in short supply. — Dan Weiss
Face Your Fear
The son of a gospel singer and a former backup vocalist for CeeLo Green who has also done time in garage bands and dabbled in rap, Curtis Harding has taken the long way around to finding his comfort zone in vintage soul. Like 2014’s Soul Power, Face Your Fear, which was coproduced by Harding with Sam Cohen and Danger Mouse, lovingly employs the ramped-up horns, cooing vocals, sweetened strings, and other sonic details of classic late 1960s/early 1970s rhythm and blues. Harding sings with gravelly authority on the trippy “Go As You Are” and locomotive “Need Your Love,” but he’s by no means a one-note shouter. He moves up into falsetto range on “Dream Girl,” and “Welcome To My World,” and writes with delicacy and flair throughout, whether being winningly playful on the self-mocking but steadfast “Till The End” or looking demons in the eye on the smooth-as-silk title track. — Dan DeLuca