For the past decade, Amos Garrett has opted to down play his guitar prowess and instead concentrate on singing with his deep baritone voice, often sounding most at home on classic songs from the 1930’s. Percy Mayfield, who some consider to be the greatest R&B songwriter of all time (having penned over 60 songs for the great Ray Charles, among many other artists), wrote songs for the same baritone range, making the pairing of Garrett’s voice and Mayfield’s songs a perfect match.
While Mayfield’s songs are known to many throughout the world, Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy Mayfield marks the first time that an artist has devoted an entire album to his work. Hearing 11 songs from his famed catalogue strung together helps to explain why so many artists have long regarded Mayfield as “The Poet Laureate of the Blues.” Interestingly, Garrett chose to avoid Mayfield’s two biggest hits, “Hit The Road, Jack” and “Please Send Me Someone To Love,” to instead focus on his lesser-known songs.
Though most of Mayfield’s songs have a slow tempo, Garrett’s best work is heard on “Stranger In My Own Hometown,” “The River’s Invitation,” and “Get Way Back,” up-tempo tracks that mix magnificently with the slower numbers, creating an album that flows both passionately and naturally. Get Way Back puts the emphasis on Garrett’s deep, supple voice, for a change, with his trademark guitar perfectly complementing Mayfield’s lyrics. The pairing of Garrett’s unique style, both vocally and instrumentally, is at times understated, other times utterly fascinating, and always powerful. His portrayal of the blues legend Mayfield has resulted in an album that many are calling the best record of his long career.
Get Way Back is out now on Stony Plain Music.