Solomon Burke – Nothing’s Impossible
When I first heard this record in the spring of 2010, I knew it was special. I’m a big fan of classic soul music – strings, horns, and fat drums way up in the mix. Somewhere around 1980, things went all wrong; blame it on the synthesizer in my opinion. Why hire a whole room full of musicians when you can recreate their sound with the touch of a button? But, something was certainly lost in the process – and that was FEEL.
The first thing you notice about Nothing’s Impossible is that it sounds like a classic soul record should – REAL strings, horns and drums, and that irresistible Willie Mitchell production, originally heard on so many great records from Al Green to Ann Peebles. But, it’s more than just the backing tracks here that make it stand out. Solomon Burke’s voice is still a commanding presence, still capable of giving you goosebumps. There’s something in that voice that is warm and comforting; it’s as if he’s saying that he’ll take care of all of us – and he was a big enough man to do it too. But, I noticed in my first review back in May a sadness that had never been in any of his previous works. Perhaps he saw the light at the end of the tunnel. Mitchell passed away just ten days after completing these sessions, and then Burke followed less than six months later.
Just in case you think that the teaming of a legendary producer and a legendary performer is an easy one – consider the disastrous Phil Spector sessions for both Dion and John Lennon. There was mutual respect and admiration between Burke and Mitchell that helped the project get off the ground. It didn’t hurt that both of them were still at the top of their game, with Mitchell recently producing a fine Al Green record, while Burke had recently released several other critically-acclaimed discs. The fact is, no other singer could have taken these songs and injected so much passion. And, no other producer could have surrounded Burke’s voice so sympathetically. It was a match, made in heaven
There were a surprising amount of great CDs released in 2010, but in going back and revisiting them all, I kept asking – “Is this something that we’ll enjoy ten, even twenty years from now”? and “Could this album be put right next to that person’s best work”? The answers, in Solomon Burke’s case, are a resounding “yes” to both. Nobody makes soul records like this anymore, but we’re certainly glad they did. –Tony Peters