O.V. Wright – Into Something – Can’t Shake Loose Hi Records HLP 6001 (1977)
In 1977, southern soul was definitely an anachronism. O.V. Wright didn’t have a voice like Otis or Aretha. He had a “preacher” style that was more of a sing-speak approach, with a crackly, nasal tone (Rev. Robert Crenshaw of The Swan Silvertone Singers might be a comparison). But none of that matters. This album has great arrangements and backing. It is southern soul, but it pays a lot of deference to Philly “sweet” soul with its orchestral treatments. This is the template for just about every latter day (male) retro soul singer — Lee Fields, Charles Bradley, etc. No, this isn’t some huge holy grail of soul music, but it’s a good one that really works to earn respect.