Saturday, January 1, 2011


Late last year, I named my top 10 albums of 2010 (#1 was The Drive-By Truckers' The Big To-Do) but right after that, I decided that there were a lot of albums that didn't make my top 10 that were "tied for #11) starting with Buddy Guy's Living Proof.

Another "tied for #11" is Solomon Burke's swansong, Nothing's Impossible. Sadly, Solomon passed away last year. This wasn't just his final album, it was also the final album by producer Willie Mitchell, who produced most of Al Green's most beloved albums.  I thought Mitchell was a great choice to produce Solomon, and apparently they had wanted to work together for a few years. Mitchell died shortly before the album was actually released, Burke soon after, and it's a great last page in the books of both men.

I'm a big fan of Solomon Burke, and not just his '60s era stuff: he was one of my favorite artists of the '00s. I loved his four albums from that decade: Don't Give Up On Me (produced by Joe Henry),  Make Due With What You Got (produced by Don Was), Nashville (produced by Buddy Miller) and Like A Fire (produced by Steve Jordan). Nothing's Impossible holds up well to those great albums, ending an incredible career on a long, high note.

Nothing's Impossible isn't gimmicky or forced, doesn't feature guest stars or big collaborations. It's just amazing soul music, the result of a summit of two giants. The one attention-grabbing cover is Anne Murray's "You Needed Me." I never liked the song, but Burke puts it in a new light, although it's a bit corny, he sells it. But the part of the album that stops me in my tracks every time is the last song, chillingly titled "I'm Leavin'."  It's not predicting his passing - it's about a breakup - but still, he sings so movingly, it's a lovely wave goodbye to the fans he's left behind.

Here's a lovely op-ed about Solomon from someone who worked with him on some of his last albums, Shawn Amos.

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