ALBUM REVIEW: Homecoming for a soul diva in the land of Bluff City blues

Beverley Knight: "As soon as I walked into (the legendary Royal Studios in Memphis, USA), I knew I had to record an album there (because) it had such a great vibe and it turned out to be the best recording experience Ive ever had."

Beverley Knight: "As soon as I walked into (the legendary Royal Studios in Memphis, USA), I knew I had to record an album there (because) it had such a great vibe and it turned out to be the best recording experience Ive ever had."

  • Evidence that something very good can come out of Wolverhampton
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SOULSVILLE by Beverley Knight, East West Records (Warner Music UK Ltd) - Out Now

Al Green, Aretha Franklin, Isaac Hayes, Booker T “Boogie Woogie” Laury and the Original “Soul Man” himself, Sam Moore of 1960s rhythm and blues duo Sam and Dave.

All these stars have musical claims to Memphis, USA, which comes screaming out of Wolverhampton soul diva Beverley Knight’s eighth studio album, Soulsville.

Nearly five years after a nod to the British soul scene with her 2011 album Soul UK, Knight finds a gap in her diary after spells in London’s West End as the star of musicals The Bodyguard, Cats and Memphis to record Soulsville.

This is the album Knight was born to record, with original songs like Middle of Love, When I See You Again, Red Flag, All Things Must Change (strikingly reminiscent of Sam Brown’s 1989 UK charts top-five hit Stop) and the superior I Won’t Be Looking Back.

But there are also new versions of the classics like Ann Peebles’ I Can’t Stand the Rain, Judy Clay and William Bell’s Private Number (where Knight duets with Jamie Cullum) and Elvis Presley’s Hound Dog which owes more to John Lee Hooker’s Boom Boom.

Soulsville, Beverley Knight's eighth studio album and her first in nearly five years, was recorded in Memphis, USA.

Soulsville, Beverley Knight's eighth studio album and her first in nearly five years, was recorded in Memphis, USA.

Perhaps the high watermark of the album is the solemn Sitting on the Edge, written by Knight and Jimmy Hogarth who has also written for Paolo Nutini, Amy Winehouse, James Morrison, Corinne Bailey Rae, KT Tunstall and Tina Turner.

The only question mark with Soulsville is the crescendo-esque climax as Knight and Moore double up on Sam and Dave’s Hold On I’m Coming, a song that would have been an absolute barnstormer with which to open the album.

As someone who studied newspaper journalism in Wolverhampton, as well as watching a lot of football there for about five years, this reviewer can well understand its reputation as the UK’s “most miserable city” after a study by think tank The Legatum Institute last year.

However, in answer to the question “can anything good come out of Wolverhampton?”, Beverley Knight and Soulsville is the answer.

As soon as I walked into (Willie Mitchell’s legendary Royal Studios in Memphis, USA), I knew I had to record an album there (because) it had such a great vibe and it turned out to be the best recording experience I’ve ever had

Beverley Knight

As the Original Soul Man (Moore) said with the very last words on the album, Soulsville is a very much a case of: “Good God Almighty”.

Review by Winston Brown