Review: Grady Champion – Tough Times Don’t Last

Posted on: Friday, Jun 21, 2013

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Grady Champion – Tough Times Don’t Last

(Grady Shady Music: GSCD 1004-13)

On what is now Grady’s seventh album he has taken a rather different approach to the music this time and has produced an album with a warm and glowing, resonating feeling that is infused with southern soulful gospel; with traces of an inner hardened blues edge here and there, as opposed to playing only biting, hard hitting blues. His softly rasping reassuring voice pours from the speakers in a mellow cascade of confidence as he energetically immerses himself into numbers such as the moving “Mississippi Pride,” where he reminisces of the good times he’d spent with his grandma,  the haunting sparse harmonica solo causing hair raising chills up and down the spine. The mood is lifted with a footapping, lively harmonica led shuffler entitled “My Time Baby.”

Helping Grady; lead vocals, guitar and harmonica are the Grady Bunch who are Caleb Armstrong; guitar, string arrangements and production, Marquis Champion; bass, Lil Call Jackson, drums, Nathan Keck, Chris Gill and Granard McClendon; guitars, Larry Addison; piano, Kevin Culver and Steve Wilkerson; keyboards and Amy Lott; clarinet. The addition of Thomasine Anderson on background vocals lifts the whole album onto a higher plane. “Glory Train,” is a wonderfully enticing harmonica led piano, bass and drums gospel salvation shuffler, while “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be,” is a sad and weary marital tale but, played with a slow and funky groove.

The lilting and optimistic title number applauds all the ordinary people that suffer and survive in all the hard times that are sent to try us, the enticing yet somewhat mournful clarinet is especially emotive. On the soul infused “Ghetto,” Grady reminisces about the good and bad choices he and others took as youngsters, the swirly girly background vocals backing the low level funky guitar groove gives the number a somewhat haunted feel. “Cookie Jar,” is a rather enjoyable ‘backdoor man’ based salute to the Legendary Howlin’ Wolf.  The final number “What Would Christmas Be Without You?” is a homely soulful Sam Cooke inspired ode to love and joy.



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