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Eli Paperboy ReedEli Paperboy Reed
Album: My Way Home
Label: Yep Roc
Tracks: 11

Do me a favour, if you're not breathing faster after listening to this barnstormer of an album, reach inside your outer garments and just check your heart is still beating…

This is a punchy, gutsy, sweat-drenched, soul saviour of an album that knows exactly what it wants to do and gets straight down to the business of doing. Namely, knocking your socks off!

Leaving the horn section on the bus, Reed has gone back to church to conjure a classic revival meeting in machine gun beats, stabbing rhythms and wailing vocals. This is no cathedral of sound, this is a rafter-raising rapture, a shop front preacher's throwdown, a tent-testifyin' sermon of the saved that wrestles with its own rocky road to righteousness while pitching a mighty fine wang-dang-doodle.

Opening track Hold Out smacks the Good Word right upside your head and sends the needle singing into the red by the end of the first few bars and to Reed's enormous credit he doesn't stop to correct it. If it feels right, do it… then do it some more. Praise be.

Through the course of what follows - and it's not all pedal to the metal redemption songs - Reed sings out our sins, trades them with a few of his own and dispatches the lot with laser-focussed, less-is-more guitar fireworks. Keep faith? It was never in question.

My Way Home challenges the doubters that thought Paperboy would get stuck in some kind of retro revivalist rut to think again. The only cover, the traditional Cut Ya Down, is given a makeover in his hands, but it is in the originals that the record's heart lies. The brooding sentiments of The Strangest Thing in which words and music combine to articulate the creeping charms of Old Nick, are familiar to us all; while Tomorrow's Not Promised reminds us to stick with it as nothing is guaranteed and I'd Rather be Alone celebrates the bliss of going our own way.

The album bristles with a 'let's go' attitude that if it was any more live and direct the band would have to be in your living room. As well drilled as they clearly are the players are nimble enough to follow Reed's lead and sympatico enough to break it down or build it up in the blink of a beat.

On this evidence, that ol' Devil, he ain't got a prayer…

Nick Churchill