Lee Fields & The Expressions, My World (Truth & Soul)

My World pairs Fields' impassioned delivery with savvy slow-dance soundtrackers.

Dazzling and fresh
Most listeners will have difficulty accepting that My World is, in fact, a new record. Veteran soul and funk singer Lee Fields has been in the game since the late '60s, but the oldest cut in the list—outside of a respectful nod to a Holland-Dozier-Holland classic—goes back only four or so years. My World builds on decades-old, scrappy performances by James Brown (the similarities are frightening) or Stax Records favorites, and its well-crafted arrangements are just as marvelous.

Produced by Truth & Soul founders Jeff Silverman and Leon Michels, My World pairs Fields' impassioned delivery with the savviest slow-dance soundtrackers they could muster. The Expressions, a Brooklyn powerhouse, offer a brew of organs, syncopated guitars and romantic string swells that coat the LP with tempered doses of sultry and sizzle. Most importantly, the musicians know when to pull back and allow Fields to shine. One such exercise comes to fruition on My World''s title track—pizzicato violins and vibraphones accent the bare verse segments, where Fields laments the dreariness dealt on the evening news. It''s a downer, but its twinkling frame is the kind that Cut Chemist''s dollar-bin-scavenging dreams are made of. [4 out of 5 stars]