The man who put sweet soul into the blues has just released his third album since joining Third Street. Where Have All The Soul Men Gone is another batch of top-shelf songs from one of the most prolific writers in the blues world, Johnny himself, who wrote every song on the album.
Until the 2020 pandemic, Rawls was also one of music’s greatest road warriors, regularly filling halls about a hundred nights a year coast-to-coast. Johnny has also become a staple of the European blues scene, making the trip each year during the festival season. It was on one of those tours that he hooked up with a family of Danish blues musicians and recorded Where Have All The Soul Men Gone in Copenhagen, with horns and a touch of guitar added back in the US.
Like his other Third Street releases, 2019’s I Miss Otis Clay, and BMA Soul Blues Album Of The Year, I’m Still Around, from 2018, Johnny’s latest is a simmering pot of southern old-school slow-cooked R&B. The blues is deep in the blood of the songs, and a listener will find themselves settling down in Memphis, with thoughts of Georgia nights. Stand-outs on a first listen are “Town Too Small”, “Money”, and the opening title track where Johnny looks back at the many great singers whose paths he crossed. ZZ Hill, Bobby Bland, and Little Willie John make the roll call with many others. This time, too, Rawls takes us to church with the closing gospel, “Calling On Jesus.”
Where Have All The Soul Men Gone is available now on CD and wherever great music is streamed.