When: Sat., July 12, 12 p.m. 2014
Veteran soul singer Lee Fields has all but completely shed the James Brown fixation he developed as a young turk in the late 70s, instead focusing on a more classic sound—and it serves him better than ever on the new Emma Jean (Truth & Soul). Most of the songs are slinky, sultry ballads or midtempo struts that summon the spirit of various 70s soul models—among them a bit of late Stax, some Philly soul, a touch of disco, and a heaping helping of the late Bobby Womack. Fields inhabits every number so thoroughly, though, that you’ll probably end up feeling silly if you distract yourself with influence spotting. His raspy voice has never sounded so authoritative, and it seems to pick up extra fire when it encounters unexpected elements in the songs—among them the woozy pedal steel that glides through “Paralyzed” (written by Dan Auerbach of Black Keys) and the blaring Bill Conti-worthy brass in “Standing by Your Side.” Emma Jean easily could’ve been made in the 70s, and considering how few modern soul records sound this good, I’m happy for the time-capsule approach. This set is part of West Fest. —Peter Margasak 8:30 PM (festival hours begin at noon), Main Stage.
Price: $5 suggested donation