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Album reviews: Sleater-Kinney, Spirit of the Beehive, Robert Finley

Dan DeLuca, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Entertainment News

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Robert Finley

"Sharecropper's Son"

(Easy Eye Sound *** 1/2)

"Trying to make it in this messed-up world/ I'm doing the best I can," Robert Finley sings over the sinuous swamp groove of "Country Child." Coming from someone who had to quit his carpentry job in 2015 after being declared legally blind and didn't release his first album until age 64, those are not empty words. Their spirit of endurance is evident throughout "Sharecropper's Son."

 

The album is the soul-bluesman's second collaboration with the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach, who again served as producer/guitarist/co-writer and backed Finley with his usual Nashville session aces. The difference is that on 2017′s "Goin' Platinum!" Finley didn't write any of the songs. Here, he co-wrote all but one — the gospel closer "All My Hope." As on Finley's 2016 debut, "Age Don't Mean a Thing," we get an autobiographical set that digs deeper.

The Louisiana-born singer swaggers through stompers like the title song and "Better Than I Treat Myself" with Otis Redding-like command, while ballads such as "I Can Feel Your Pain," one of the instances where he sings falsetto, highlight his tender and empathetic side.

On the gospel-tinged soul ballad "My Story," Finley sings: "You're never too young to dream, never too old to live. ... That's why I tell my story, so you can start dreaming, too." It's an undeniably uplifting moment that gives a universal resonance to his journey. — Nick Cristiano

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