Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor – NOW
Hit City Digital Records/Supreme Music 2000
10 songs – 35 minutes
A fixture along the Gulf Coast for decades, Henry Turner Jr. & Flavor deliver a silky smooth mix of blues, soul, funk and reggae that will have you sliding and gliding across the dance floor in this all-original collection that was ten years in the making.
A multi-instrumentalist who possesses a warm, rich baritone voice, Turner’s one of the leading lights in music-rich Baton Rouge, La., where he’s owned and operated Hit City Records since the mid-‘80s and launched Henry Turner Jr.’s Listening Room and Heritage Museum in 2014 to promote and support regional talent.
Founder of the Baton Rouge Mardi Gras and Soul Food Festivals, he also organizes the Ultimate Louisiana Party – two- and three-day shindigs that feature local musicians, artists and spoken-word performers and more of the food that’s made the region famous. He’s also a film documentarian, and his labors have earned him multiple honors as an official music ambassador from state government agencies.
This is the 11th full-length album for Turner, a guitarist who incorporates jazz chordings and doubles on bass and drums. He handles lead vocals throughout, yielding the mic to Char Robertson on one cut. They’re backed by Maestro, Tony Mitchell and JahB on accordion and keyboards, Lynwood Ourso on guitar, Joey Decker on horns, Andrew Bernard on sax and keys, Larry Bradford on percussion with Jenessa Nelson, Molly Milne and Wyanda R. Paul providing backing vocals.
The mouth-watering “I Love My Soul Food” — a funky, medium-slow Southern soul pleaser — kicks off the action with Turner yearning for chittlins over rice, collard greens, corn bread, black-eyed peas and fried chicken. The song title serves as a hook throughout as Henry adds wild game, sweet potatoes and more to the menu before he’s done.
The warm love ballad, “Long as I Live,” heats up the night as it recounts love at first sight that will last an eternity before Turner launches into “That’s My Saints,” an upbeat, accordion-driven tribute to his favorite football team, especially after the way they worked their magic in the Super Bowl. It’s followed by the ballad “I’m Not That Kind of Man,” a bluesy confessional that he truly longs for a lady who’s “smart, beauty and sensual” – something he prefers far more than fortune and fame.
The funk kicks in full force for the Big Easy send-up, “I’m Going Down to the Mardi Gras!” It’s a horn-rich, percussive, stop-time pleaser that looks forward to getting drunk, partying hard and dancing with the big chiefs and Indian queens. Robertson’s in charge for “1 (One) Wish,” an unhurried ballad that finds her realizing how her grandmother felt as she yearns for life to be kind as she ages.
The music heats up for Turner’s “Baton Rouge Theme Song,” which describes the capital city as a place no one can refuse – where you’ll have a good time whether you’re trying or not. It flows into the instrumental, “Irenkar,” a breezy jazz number that gives Henry plenty of space to lay down some tasty single-note guitar runs. The album concludes with radio mixes of both “I’m Going Down to the Mardi Gras!” and “I Love Soul Food.”
Available on digital platforms worldwide, NOW is a solid effort on all counts and should please anyone whose tastes fall somewhere in the soul-blues/Southern soul vein. The only criticism here is that the two radio mixes are redundant to the earlier versions, making this work much closer to an EP than a full-length CD.