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Lee Fields and the Expressions: Faithful Man (Truth and Soul) 

Veteran soul-man Lee Fields' second album for Truth and Soul picks right up where 2009's My World left off. Full of passionate, deeply emotive tracks fleshed out with full orchestration and driven with great subtlety by Truth and Soul's peerless house band, Faithful Man continues Fields' late-life run of stellar recordings.

Soul music is a field that artists can continue to grow into as they get older, and Fields is clearly a man who's lived life. Perhaps not as immediately gripping as My World, and possessing a certain sameness of approach (mid-to-slow tempos, lots of orchestration, impassioned vocals) on most tracks, Faithful Man is nonetheless at the top of the soul releases so far in 2012. Fields' métier here is the vagaries of love and the endless well of heartbreak. It's right there in the song titles: "I'm Still Hanging On," "Wish You Were Here," "It's All Over (But the Crying)," "Faithful Man," "Walk on Through That Door." A deep soul version of the Rolling Stones' "Moonlight Mile" fits right in.

This orchestral, love-hurt approach to soul was huge in the 1970s with acts like the Stylistics, The Delfonics, The Dramatics, The Dells and many others. Fields, who was once known more as a high-energy, James Brown-style funk-and-soul belter, doesn't have the perfect voice of a Sam Cooke or James Carr, but that just doesn't matter: Fields personifies deep soul, and he is at the top of his game on Faithful Man.

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