The Reviews Are in for “The Muscle Shoals Sessions”

Muscle Shoals Cover 240“A blend of sultry desire, ardent passion and mournful deliberation, and a sound that’s both tough and tender, mixing swagger with sway.” (RELIX)

“The album finds Black offering terrific versions of some of the vintage soul and R&B numbers recorded in Muscle Shoals.” (PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER)

“[The album] showcases Black’s range as a skillful interpreter. She also included three of her originals, including the album’s centerpiece, “Woman on Fire,” a blazing call-to-arms that just happens to sum up her life these days.” (BOSTON GLOBE)

“To showcase her true potential as a bluesy, R&B heavy hitter, Amy Black had to go home. Thankfully, home for her is Muscle Shoals, Alabama, home to the mythic FAME Studios. Black’s soulful chops shine…” (ELMORE MAGAZINE)

“Black Is blessed with a deeply soulful voice that melds elements of Dusty Springfield, Mavis Staples and Alberta Hunter. On Penn and Oldham’s ‘Uptight, Good Man’ Black sounds like a female Percy Sledge with her gospel infused vocals – the traditional ‘You Gotta Move’ is a slab of old school Gospel/Blues replete with gutbucket vocals, harmonies and slide…You have a set that should propel Amy Black towards international stardom.” (BLUES IN BRITAIN)

“Black has some originals that are as interesting and as funky as the covers. ‘Please Don’t Give Up On Me’ sounds like it might have been penned by Swamper composer legend Dan Penn imbued by Black’s country soul vocals. ‘Get To Me’ is a country answer to Aretha’s ‘Do Right Man,’ with a spoken word chorus encouraging women to assert themselves and find a man who loves women for who and what what they are…a smooth blend of past and present that keeps the Swamper legacy alive and kicking’.” (NO DEPRESSION)

“The highlight just might be the majestic new take on the gospel classic ‘You Gotta Move.’ It sounds like the song goes all the way back to the beginning of time. It has the strength of those who are caught in the depth of human misery yet somehow look up and see a way to another life, a scorching take on a music which gives hope to the future. Amy Black knows the trip is worth everything she’s had to do to get there, and that the next and best stop is up around the bend. There are songs by legendary people like Sam Cooke, Don Covay, Dan Penn, Bob Dylan and Arthur Alexander to ensure the way is not lost, but Black’s originals stand right up to them. The king here is groove.” (BENTLEY’S BANDSTAND/THE MORTON REPORT)

“Amy Black has achieved acclaim as a fine singer/songwriter, mostly in the Americana/Country genres. But on ‘The Muscle Shoals Sessions’, Ms. Black stayed close to her north Alabama roots with a visit to the historically-significant FAME Recording Studios for this fine collection of soul classics and originals all given that iconic Muscle Shoals sound.” (BLUES BYTES)

“4 out of 4 Stars “There are great expectations when someone is attempting to capture the supernatural spirit of a highly regarded studio. Amy Black not only went back home for this record, but she went well prepared and with the talent to back herself up. ‘The Muscle Shoals Sessions’, exudes confidence and is a throwback to the days when records were made the old fashioned way, by hard work and good music.” (ALL ABOUT JAZZ)

“Amy Black delivers a consistently satisfying and soulful simmer on a set of nicely chosen covers and genre-savvy originals. And while the covers might draw the initial attention, particularly a classically Muscle Shoals-bedecked workup of the Sam Cooke classic ‘Bring It On Home’ or Dylan’s ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’, Ms. Black’s ‘Woman On Fire’ and ‘Get To Me’ are scorchers screaming for airplay.” (ROOTS MUSIC REPORT)

“Amy Black never fails to nail that rarefied musical sweet-spot where southern gospel, the blues and R&B meet and emerge as soul – imagine a vocal blend of Bonnie Raitt, Bobbie Gentry and Rosanne Cash and you’d be close…recorded at the legendary FAME studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, the result is a Spooner Oldham, Will Kimbrough and Shoals Horns-informed 12-song mix of Shoals-sourced classics…along with a trio or well-crafted, in-the-same-vein Black originals – the saucily percolating, occasionally simmering (a la Dusty Springfield) test testimonial ‘Get To Me’, a Black Keys-vibed ‘Woman On Fire’ and the horns-framed, tear-stained plea ‘Please Don’t Give Up On Me’.” (SHINDIG!)

“In the blue-eyed soul tradition, Black recalls Dusty Springfield, Bonnie Raitt and Joan Osborne, commanding a voice that conveys the rich emotional core of the material. She evokes strength and power on her best self-penned song here, ‘Woman On Fire’ and vulnerability and sadness on ‘Starting All Over Again.” (MANCHESTER UNION LEADER)

“While there’s always a parade of artists coming to the Shoals to seek inspiration, it is not often that an artist comes to pay tribute. [Black’s] decision to cover Shoals songs for the effort turns out to be a very wise one indeed.” (EXAMINER)

“‘You Left The Water Running’ is no less tear-stained than when Otis and Pickett each bled a version in the ’60s. And Black’s clean, clear voice keeps right on hooking hearts, switching over to her own spin on Arthur Alexander gentility, Etta James bluster, and even Sam Cooke-via-Lou Rawls funk…[her original] ‘Woman on Fire’…is pure fever–tone, tempo and desire.” (BALTIMORE BLUESRAG)

“3 1/2* Black’s own compositions held their own…The blistering ‘Woman On Fire’ featuring backing vocals by Ann and Regina McCrary, sounds like a lost track by LaBelle. The sultry ‘Get To Me’ calls to mind the romantic ballads of Dusty Springfield.” (ICON Magazine)

“Black states that the ‘Sessions’ speak to her soul and that they have changed her musical direction. Black’s performance on this recording will speak to your soul too.” (MAKING A SCENE)

“Amy Black ‘gets it’ and hopefully some of you will, too. ‘The Muscle Shoals Sessions’ deserves to be heard by all who appreciate the funkier, soulful side of roots music. Amy Black just keeps getting better.” (FERVOR COULEE)

“Among the South’s many musical attractions, none seems to exert quite the pull of Alabama’s Muscle Shoals, whose FAME studio in the ’60s drew artists like Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding and Etta James. Aretha Franklin’s career was revitalized and given a new direction there thanks to FAME’s studio-session musicians, among them organist Spooner Oldham, who pops up on several tracks here. Designed to ‘nail the spot where gospel, blues and R&B collide—and transform into soul,’ ‘The Muscle Shoals Sessions’ is an expanded version of an EP songstress Amy Black made a few years ago that now includes three originals. My favorite is her ‘Woman on Fire.’ Set to a beat that mirrors her pulsating blood pressure, it’s the story of a woman who’s fixated on a musician…Among the covers are terrific versions of Sam Cooke’s ‘Bring It on Home,’ Bob Dylan’s ‘Gotta Serve Somebody,’ ‘Uptight, Good Man’ by Dan Penn/Oldham and heartfelt treatment of the traditional spiritual, ‘You Got to Move.’ Great voice, great songs.”(CHICO NEWS & REVIEW)

“Amy Black knows how to reach down to the soul and change course to what feels right.” (THE IMPROPER BOSTONIAN)

“I can’t imagine anyone not getting caught up in this engaging collection, which mixes perfectly chosen covers with originals that evoke that classic sound without aping it.
‘Please Don’t Give Up On Me,’ perhaps the album’s standout track, Black takes full advantage of Charles Rose’s stellar horn arrangement, offering up a stunning soul gem that’s equal parts twangy torch song and slow-dance masterpiece.” (GATEHOUSE NEWSPAPERS wire service)

“First, a disclaimer: I’m a sucker for any singer who can do a great cover of a Sam Cooke song. Amy Black does exactly that, even though her uptempo R&B version of Cooke’s ‘Bring It On Home’ is more in line with the funk and spice of a Lou Rawls version. But the woman’s got some pipes. On this, her third solo album…she finds the nexus between gospel, blues, soul, and R&B. Mature, confident, bold, tough but also tender, Black — who has lived most of her life in Boston — has what it takes to be something special.” (THE TOLEDO BLADE)

“Black puts a modern twist on the work of the classic soul…of the 1960s through her Muscle Shoals performances of hits by artists such as Aretha Franklin, Etta James and the Rolling Stones…” (CLEVELAND SCENE)

“2015’s ‘Muscle Shoals Sessions’ shows Amy Black at her most versatile, channeling the music of Muscle Shoals, Alabama, circa 1969 (and the surrounding decades, of course).” (RIVERFRONT TIMES)

“Her recording ‘The Muscle Shoals Sessions’ finds her delving into the rootsy, southern, bluesy, old time aura that rises from north Alabam’, forging creative covers of music from Sam Cooke and Dan Penn among others, and adding her own songs to the mix. Black is well equipped to do this, with a voice that holds hints of Bonnie Raitt and Etta James yet remains uniquely her own, and with a creative imagination that recasts Bob Dylan’s ‘Gotta Serve Somebody’ and the Black Keys’ Tighten Up in ways that completely fit the roots infused story Black is telling. Those are standout tracks; so are Black’s own ‘Please Don’t Give Up On Me’ and Cooke’s Bring It On Home. Really, though, each of the dozen tracks is a keeper. (MUSIC ROAD)

“If you’re gonna cover Sam Cooke, you better do it right. If you’re going to cover­ Bob Dylan, you better do it right. If you’re — OK, you get it. Amy Black has picked out some le­gendary material for new LP ‘The Muscle Shoals Sessions’ (if you’re going to call your album ‘The Muscle Shoals Sessions,’ you better …) and Black brings every sweet song home. (THE BOSTON HERALD)

“‘The Muscle Shoals Sessions’ [is] a record as warm and funky as an Alabama summer night.” (SEVEN DAYS)

“Five Stars – ‘This is an extremely soulful new recording that will please Muscle Shoals fans old and new.’” (SUN HERALD)

“Killer blue eyed soul” (MIDWEST REVIEW)

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