Friday, March 25, 2011

Keith Little's Soulful Blues Vocals

Keith Little, called Cincinnati’s “King of the Blues,” is a multi-talented personality as a musician, singer, songwriter, documentary producer and more. The British publication, “Juke Blues,” recently did a nice write-up on him and he has a new CD on Blue Skunk, Take It Off And Get Loose With It, that displays his soulful blues vocals and songs. With a background in gospel and soul as well as blues, this new recording (which is at least his fourth) shows why he was regarded highly enough for a British publication to devote a feature to him. I am not familiar with most of the musicians backing Little on this with the exception of Rick Nye who plays the keyboards on a number of tracks (Nye is best known for the annual boogie woogie parties he throws). Other prominent members of the backing musicians is guitarist Marcos Sastre, Cheryl Renee Little (his wife) on keyboards and Gary Winters (credited on horns and arrangements, although the horns sound like a synthesized keyboards on the opening “Stand My Ground.” Keith Little is heard on bass guitar on several tracks while playing lead and rhythm on a few songs.

The opening track, Stand My Ground, is an uptempo burner with Sastre blasting things out while Little sings about he won’t things won’t bother him as he has to stand his ground. There is a soulful warmth in his gritty baritone that is even better displayed on Copper Tops, with Nye’s strong piano setting the tone before he sings about having a die-hard love affair as delivers an amusing lyric. His vocals might be likened to Brook Benton but with a bit more grit. The title track, Get Loose With It, is a playful number as Little tells his lady to take it off and get loose with it, followed by the slow blues Wheelin’ and Dealin’, where Little talks about being a being with a brand new attitude and either she loves him with a feeling and he is wheelin’ and dealin’ out the door with Sastre playing some particularly nice guitar on this while Little’s relaxed, natural delivery of his song, helps it resonate with the listener.

Little’s soulfulness also is displayed on another strong slow blues, Show Some Sign, again with strong fretwork from Sastre. It’s All About you, is a funky dance number where his wife adds a guest vocal. Going Down Slow is not the St. Louis Jimmy classic, but more akin to the Freddie King recording, Going Down, as he is “going down, way way down too far to go.” Little, waiting for his woman to come home, knows his woman has her New Shoes on and he has pain in his heart as he breaks into a falsetto as he tells his baby its too late now with a nice understated accompaniment. The disc closes with the only song Little did not pen, Tony Joe White’s Rainy Night in Georgia, on which Little sounds pretty close to Brook Benton on the hit recording with some smooth saxophone from Marcus Grisom and some sound effects in the background.

Marcos Sastre does rock out a bit at times and a live horn section would have been stronger than the synthesized horns heard on several tracks, but Keith Little really has a way with a song and brings a warm, gritty sensualness to the music here that should appeal to fans of blues and soul. This can be obtained from Blue Skunk at from which this can be purchased. Keith Little’s website is

I received a review copy from Blue Skunk.

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