Every Soul’s a Star
Dave Keller makes Montpelier, Vt. his home. He studied acoustic blues with Paul Rishell and in 1993 recorded a cassette called “Deep Down in My Soul”. After releasing the Dave Keller Band debut in 1998 he began to be mentored by Mighty Sam McClain who at this time lived in nearby New Hampshire. Keller’s 2011 album “Where I’m Coming From” won the award for the 2012 Best Self-Produced CD at The International Blues Challenge. Shortly thereafter Keller began to back Johnny Rawls whenever he played the New England area and soon began to be mentored by him.
In 2014 Keller released “Soul Changes” recorded in Memphis at Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell’s Royal Studios. As a result Keller’s performance received a Blues Music Award nomination as “Soul Blues Album of The Year”. Keller’s last album “Right Back Atcha” was released in 2016.
This is Keller’s seventh soul-blues album and first for Bob Trenchard’s Catfood Records. Keller is backed by the Rays, the band that first backed Kay Kay Greenwade and came to be known as Kay Kay and The Rays. The Rays are also the house band for Catfood Records and currently back up the BMA winning Rawls on his Catfood recordings. The Rays are: Bob Trenchard, bass; Johnny McGhee, guitar; Dan Ferguson, keyboards; Richy Puga, drums; Mike Middleton, trumpet; Nick Flood, saxophones; and Christopher Serrano, percussion. The background vocalists are Janelle Thompson and Shakara Weston. The horn arrangements are by Rudy Torres, Middleton, Flood, and Keller. The album is produced by Grammy winner Jim Gaines and recorded at Sonic Ranch Studios in Tornillo, Texas. Keller dedicates the album to another mentor, songwriter Darryl Carter.
Keller has written ten new songs and includes one cover. Keller states “The songs are about both love and heartbreak, of course, but also speak about the beauty in each of us, as unique individuals and as people standing up together. This record feels like my strongest yet. I felt more at ease singing than I’ve felt in the studio. That comfort helped me sing more dynamically than I’ve ever sung before on record.”
“Don’t Let Them Take Your Joy” opens with the horns and Keller’s guitar, “remember what makes you happy and fly, fly, fly”. “Every Soul’s A Star” contains the lyric “just be who you are”. As a vocalist Keller is less muscular than McClain or Rawls, but I find him soulfully soothing.
“Baby I Love You” written by Ronnie Shannon was a hit single for Aretha Franklin in 1967. The song is included on “The Very Best of Aretha Franklin: The 60’s” on Rhino Records. Featured on the new version are guitarist McGhee and the background singers.
Keller sings “it looks like I’m up to your Old Tricks again” as Ferguson takes a nice organ solo. “You Bring The Sunshine” just might be my favorite of Keller’s originals “your like a day dream that comes to life, you bring the sunshine, you bring the light…you showed up in my life, right on time”.
Trenchard adds that Keller just might be the most-talented songwriter he’s ever worked with. If you’re uncertain of Keller’s songwriting ability just listen to “This is Gonna Hurt”, “Kiss Me Like You Miss Me” and the closer “Ain’t Givin’ In”.
Keller gives a special thank you to Rawls who introduced him to Trenchard at the Blues Music Awards several years ago. Keller says he and Trenchard talked about making an album together but “it took ‘til now”. Keller adds what his friend Mighty Sam used to say, “it may not come when you want it, but it always comes right on time.” It was well worth the wait.