Bobby Womack – The Bravest Man In The Universe

(XL)


Rating: NNNNN


Any creative collaboration can be a tricky. The best succeed on openness, trust and, most importantly, an alignment of circumstances that can’t be duplicated. Bobby Womack’s first album of original material in two decades is a stellar example of that magical confluence, and its success speaks volumes about the character of the man behind it.

Co-produced by his Gorillaz collaborator Damon Albarn and XL head Richard Russell, The Bravest Man In The Universe fearlessly fuses the old – grizzled gospel and swampy blues – with new twitchy, thumping electronics to create something that’s both inspiringly original and comfortingly familiar. It’s a dynamic reminiscent of Jack White’s brilliant team-up with country icon Loretta Lynn a few years back.

Womack has lived one of the most tumultuous lives in music, and that drama is evident here. When his strained, woeful wail gives way to a thick, dubby bass on the title track, it’s eminently clear these producers know exactly when to assert themselves and when to stay out of the soul legend’s way to achieve the most captivating results possible.

Top track: If There Wasn’t Something There

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