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John Oates is one half of the best-selling duo of all time, Hall & Oates, as well as an accomplished solo artist. Now, he has teamed up with an amazing group of accomplished and rising stars in the Americana music world to bring his new album, Arkansas, to life.
The project originally began as a tribute to Oates' idol, Mississippi John Hurt. It evolved organically, during a series of Nashville recording sessions, into a unique, retrospective collection drawing from a wide rand of Oates' musical influences. Asked about the style and sound of Arkansas, he says, ''it's like Dixieland dipped in bluegrass and salted with Delta blues.''
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The crown jewel of this album is the title track and John Oates original "Arkansas", "Pallet Soft and Low" featuring backgrounds by Wendy Moten, another John Oates original, "Dig Back Deep" and "Lord Send Me", a rock-blues-gospel classic straight from Isaiah 6:8.
Chris Epting, author of John Oates' memoir "Change of Seasons" wrote very well expressed liner notes for each song, explaining each song's origin.
The only drawback is that the print on the back of the CD is hard to read. Perhaps buying the 12" vinyl version of the album will cure that.
I think John Oates has found his niche and we should expect more diamonds like "Arkansas" in the future.
The liner notes in the digipak booklet – by the co-author of Oates 2017 memoir – are a nice touch. And I’ll agree with another reviewer that the typeface on the CD jacket is really hard to read. (I sure wish artists would “test market” their graphic designs on unaffiliated customers before they approve the artwork).
If you know Oates’ previous solo work, you’ll definitely want this album. If you are new to it, and love the blues, give it a listen. I think you’ll like it.
I hope you found this review both informative and helpful.