In Too Deep
I was super thrilled to see the new Sugaray Rayford disc In Too Deep when it recently arrived. I was in total awe of his prior album, Somebody Save Me, which earned him a Grammy nomination and two Blues Music Awards. Sugaray’s brand of hot buttered soul makes me feel alive with each and every listen. Fabulously written and produced by Eric Corne, founder and president of Forty Below Records, this record is drenched in Seventies Soul and /R&B. With Sugarray behind the mic, his band consists of Rick Holmstrom and Eamon Ryland splitting up the guitar performances, Sasha Smith and Drake Munkihaid Shining sharing keyboard responsibilities, Taras Prodaniuk on bass, and Matt Tecu on drums.
“Invisible Soldier” leads the album off with a megaton of groove and a reminder to us all about the struggles experienced by wartime veterans. This song in particular was inspired by Sugaray’s personal battle with insomnia stemming from PTSD. With every listen, I get swooped up by the hypnotic rhythm woven into “In Too Deep”. The array of guitar licks thrown in by Ryland adds a sweet extra layer to this song of despair. The horn-laden jam on “Under the Crescent Moon” is a superb and funky throwback to those Seventies cop drama scores I loved so much. It’s a very infectious track. I also adore “Miss Information” where the melody takes a brassy, disco-esque route and the lyrics rap to a beat of their own. With a vibrant breath, and silky-smooth vocals, Sugaray delivers “Gonna Lift You Up”. Blues-soaked guitar, gospel-inspired organ, and horns all come together for an enormous good time. The album closes in a unifying way with “United We Stand”. There’s a definite Stax influence embedded in this track, and I love every bit of it.
In Too Deep has already secured a place in my favorite albums of the year, although the release date will be in 2022. This is an album you will surely want to keep an eye out for. It’s an absolute gem.