Dexter Allen – Keep Movin’ On | Album Review

Dexter Allen – Keep Movin’ On

Endless Blues Records

11 songs – 47 minutes

A star in his own right after working in the shadows in support of Bobby Rush for several years, guitarist/songwriter Dexter Allen hits on all cylinders on his latest CD, a powerful, all-original blend of blues, soul and funk that puts a positive, downhome spin on romance and life in troubled times.

The son of musical pastors from Crystal Springs, Miss., and a passionate, mid-range vocalist, Dexter grew up on the family farm and started playing bass in his dad’s group, The Gospel Travelers, at age 12. After relocating to Jackson, he was signed to Airtight Records in 1995, where he became a fixture both in the label’s house band and at several local churches.

A multi-instrumentalist, Allen’s primary guitar influences include Buddy Guy and Eric Clapton, but he’s got a crisp, clean style all his own. He made his recording debut in 2008 with Bluezin’ My Way, an effort that led to 2008 and 2009 Jackson Music Awards for male vocalist and entertainer of the year. This is Dexter’s sixth studio CD in a career that’s also included a live set captured at Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club and an appearance on the big screen in Get on Up, the award-winning James Brown biopic starring the late Chadwick Bozeman.

Allen handles guitar, keys and bass here in a set he produced at his own D.A. Studios. He gets helping hands from Joey Robinson (keys and drums) and Christopher Minter (drums) throughout as well as Kendrick Hart (keys), Al Miller (guitar) and Jonah Nelson (bass and backing vocals), who sit in for one cut each.

A quiet intro kicks off “Keep Moving On” before rock-steady, medium-tempo lays the foundation as Dexter offers up advice that rings true for anyone yearning to get ahead: “Keep your head up high/Keep reaching for the sky./Every day you open your eyes/You got a chance to get it right.”

This CD is chock full of tunes that look at romance from different angles, beginning for “Love Talk,” a medium-fast shuffle that sings praises of a lady Allen finds irresistible – something that comes through loud and clear in the lyrics that detail her assets and the single-note guitar and keyboard runs he lays down at the break. The interesting “Blues Eyed Girl” finds Dexter being approached by women in different settings who are looking for a good time, but he insists he’s only searching for the girl in the title – someone who’s worldly in her own right — but nowhere to be found.

“Pack Up My Bags” finds Dexter hitting the road after being done wrong once too often, while “I Just Love That Woman” – which opens with a spoken intro — lists all the things that makes a man “want to testify” about Ms. Right. The theme shifts again in “F.A.B.U.L.I.S.T. Woman,” a stinging rebuke about a liar and cheat who simply has to go, before the funky, medium-paced “If I Ain’t Got You” reminds listeners that it doesn’t matter how many possessions you own that might chase the blues away, you’re nothing without the right person at your side.

Another problem surfaces in “Sleeping in My Bed.” This time, the lady’s everything that Allen needs, but she’s not the person he wants – something that’s worrying him to death. Fortunately for lovers everywhere, the issue resolves itself because “I Can’t Live Without You,” “I Like the Way” and “My Cup of Tea” – three tunes that will put a smile on any lady’s face — bring the album to a close.

Available from Amazon and other retailers, Keep Movin’ On serves up steady, well-modulated grooves throughout. If you’re looking for pyrotechnics, look elsewhere. But if your taste favor silky smooth Southern soul and blues, pick up this one. It’s just what the love doctor ordered!

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