Derrick Procell – Hello Mojo! | Album Review

Derrick Procell – Hello Mojo!

Catfood Records

10 songs, 45 minutes

Soul Blues is born out of the genius inventions of 60’s and 70’s R&B artists such as Aretha Franklin, Otis Clay, Bobby Blue Bland, Otis Redding and Carla Thomas (to name just a few). Because this was the formative music of many Baby Boomers, it is no coincidence that many of the great Soul Blues leaders today are of that generation. Prolific commercial singer and frontman for hire, Derrick Procell’s new album Hello Mojo! is a near perfectly executed Soul Blues testament to the realities of love and aging for a midlife Boomer. Hello Mojo! is Procell’s Catfood Records debut. Produced by Soul Blues labelmate and exquisite Boomer Soul Blues commentator Zac Harmon, the 9 originals and single reassessed Kinks cover of “Who’ll Be Next In Line” create a full picture of what it means to be aging gracefully, and at times not so gracefully.

Derrick Procell is a Chicago guy. Blowing muscular harp, pounding the keys and signing with confident white guy soul somewhere between Delbert McClinton and Greg Allman, with a little Bozz Scaggs on the edges, Procell brought his Windy City bag down to West Texas – El Paso specifically the home of Catfood Records. Label owner and bassist Bob Trenchard deployed his band of straight killers, The Rays, on Hello Mojo!: Johnny McGhee on guitar, Richy Puga on drums, Dan Ferguson on keyboards, Andy Roman on tenor and alto saxs, Nick Flood on bari and tenor saxs, Mike Middleton on trumpet and Frank Otero on trombone. Munyungo Jackson adds percussion, Peter Neumer a sax solo, Steve Duncan a trombone solo and Sueann Carwell, Meredith Colby (Procell’s wife) and Jessica Ivey all add sumptuous background vocals throughout. Producer Zac Harmon adds 2 guitar solos and a track of additional guitar seamlessly with the band.

The strength in the interplay of The Rays only serves to accentuate Procell’s clever, double entendre laden songwriting and warm assured signing. Playing minimal harp and relinquishing the keyboard duties to Ferguson on all but 1 tune, Procell focuses on the songs and spins for us a window into the life of a person at the middle of the road. He balances catharsis, 2nd acts and endurance (in love and life). The title track is an audience participation ready greeting from a man rediscovering his zest. “The Contender” is a deep minor reflection on getting back in the ring, literally and metaphorically. “Skin in the Game” proudly proclaims continued relevance even in middle age while the ear worm “A Tall Glass of You,” is an infectious come-on to a long time lover.

The upbeat celebratory bruisers are all the more poignant when paired with the reflective weepers. “Broken Promise” is a leering boogie filled with memories and loss. “Baby I’m Lost” with it’s 60’s “On the Boardwalk” vibe perfectly holds the essence of youth and disillusionment. Album closer “Bittersweet Memory,” resplendent with big Soul horns, draws together the proceedings with a beautiful heartfelt swing through the past.

Derrick Procell has had a long and rewarding career as a singer. Recording for TV and movies and making music his life’s work, a few years back Procell decided to make a go with his own original material. Hello Mojo! is his 2nd record of this run and if it is any indication his mojo will be sticking around for quite some time.

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