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Times Have Changed *
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  • The title of Ronnie Baker Brooks' Times Have Changed may refer to the decade gap between this 2017 album and its 2006 predecessor, The Torch. A lot has happened during those ten years, including the deaths of Bobby "Blue" Bland and Lonnie Brooks, artists who make cameos on this 11-track album, but that's not the only way the past is present on Times Have Changed. With the assistance of producer Steve Jordan, Ronnie Baker Brooks has created a tribute to the Southern soul of the '60s and the smooth funk of the '70s. Guests abound -- apart from the dearly departed, Steve Cropper, "Big Head" Todd Mohr, Angie Stone, Felix Cavaliere, Lee Roy Parnell, Eddie Willis, and Al Kapone all make appearances -- and a few familiar old tunes, like Joe Tex's Texas soul classic "Show Me" and Eric Clapton's slow-burning "Old Love," sit alongside some fine new originals. All the guests and oldies help give the impression that Brooks' old-fashioned blues is part of a tradition, but the reason why Time Have Changed works as an album is that it doesn't feel hidebound to all the music that's come before. Brooks' solos are refined and tasteful -- that is, whenever he's not grinding out great shards of house-rocking noise -- his voice is weathered and soulful, and the collected group keeps the grooves supple and warm. The attitude might be old-fashioned but the sly interaction between Brooks, his band, and their guests illustrates that some traditions can still sound fresh due to execution and attitude. ~ Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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