All My Dues Are Paid
Nola Blue Records
Courtesy of Blues Music Magazine
Philadelphia’s Frank Bey is a throw-back soul vocalist, but as contemporary as breaking news. His mellow-as-honey baritone vocals effortlessly carry each song on the marvelous studio recording “All My Dues Are Paid” to a place of great warmth and sincerity.
This, his sixth album was recorded in Northern California’s near-magical Greaseland Studio. Producer/guitarist “Kid” Andersen hand-picked the recording’s stellar musicians & vocalists with ultimate care in lifting up Bey’s love, redemption and ultimate humanity.
Featuring thirteen tracks comprising 56-minutes of heartfelt, XXX songs, the CD is a work of passion, and proves Bey to be one of the most thoughtful and expressive interpreters of songs on the contemporary soul and R&B map. Although Bey contributed collaborative writing credit on just one cut, many of the songs seem written with him in mind, so artfully does he vocally inhabit the well-chosen compositions.
Co-producer Rick Estrin is well-represented on the recording, as songwriter on a handful of tracks and backup vocalist on many others. In his heartbreaking composition, “I’ll Bet I Never Cross Your Mind” Bey’s noir vocals perfectly match Estrin’s song of sad consequences to a failed relationship.
The beautiful and decidedly country-western ballad, “He Stopped Loving Her Today” is augmented by a lovely string arrangement & the Mike Schermer composition “One Thing Every Day” seems written for Bey and embodies the singer’s loving personal philosophy, in which he nails the upbeat tune perfectly. A standout track, “Ha Ha In The Daytime” is Percy Mayfield’s song of loneliness and heartbreak, to which Bey delivers a heartbreaking, bluesy take that makes it one of the album’s outstanding tracks.
The closing track is an interpretive wonder as Bey lifts John Lennon’s “Imagine” to places the song has rarely been. The gifted Nancy Wright contributes (as she does to many tracks on the album) the perfect tenor saxophone accompaniment to Bey’s impassioned, deeply soulful voice. There are shades of the great Otis Redding in the build and intensity of the piece as the singer pulls off the miraculous and makes it his own.
Must say a few words about Grammy Award winning bass guitarist Jerry Jemmott (what musical legend hasn’t he played with?) who’s featured on all but one track and throughout the album is the revelation he’s always been, providing melodic bottom with impeccable phrasing and a perfect punch whenever needed. Likewise, the album’s ubiquitous & gifted backup vocalist Lisa Leuschner Andersen, who can coo, belt and counterpoint Bey’s ever-varied leads.
When it comes to covering songwriters and songs, Frank Bey handles everything coming his way with an exceptional ability to showcase his remarkable vocal gift, by meeting and melding soul, blues, gospel and more head on. Lucky listeners are the richer for it.