The big question that greets listeners encountering Al Green's third Blue Note album, Lay It Down, is: what happens when you put that amazing soul-drenched voice in the hands of hip-hop producers Ahmir "?uestlove" Thompson of the Roots and James Poyser, and add a slew of superstar guests? Answer: a killer Al Green soul album. Thompson and Poyser weren't interested in straying far from the classic sound Green and producer Willie Mitchell created at Hi Records in the 1970s, but they did want to place it in a more contemporary -- albeit analog -- setting. Green cut his previous offerings for the label -- 2003's I Can't Stop and 2005's Everything's OK -- with Mitchell, and the results were good, not great, albums because Green's sound was simply re-created nostalgically. Even though Thompson and Poyser have been very creative here with their nuanced percussive, textural, and dynamic touches, Lay It Down is more of a classic-sounding Al Green record than either of its predecessors. The producers are at the core of a studio band (on drums and various analog keyboards, respectively) that also includes Mighty Clouds of Joy guitarist Chalmers "Spanky" Alford (in whose memory the album is dedicated), bassist Adam Blackstone (Jill Scott), and the Dap-Kings Horns. Lay It Down is a slow-burning, solid groover of a soul record; its dynamics and textures shift subtly and purposely to keep Green's voice at the center of its sound. If there is a flaw on the set, it's that individual tracks don't assert themselves immediately. Green, Poyser, and Thompson were going for immediacy and feel: nine of the album's 11 cuts had basic tracks done in their first session. They achieved their goal and then some -- the album feels of such an atmospheric piece and is so present that it initially comes off as a whole. That said, there is no better place to spend 45 minutes than in Lay It Down's dreamy, sensual, gritty, and tender sound world.
Performance CreditsGreen Primary Artist,Vocals
Randy Bowland Guitar
Larry Gold Conductor
James Poyser Piano,Hammond Organ,fender rhodes,Wurlitzer
Daniel Sadownick Percussion
Anthony Hamilton Vocals
Chalmers Alford Guitar
Neal Sugarman Tenor Saxophone
Jaguar Wright Background Vocals
Ian Hendrickson-Smith Baritone Saxophone
Gabriel Roth Bass
Chalmers "Spanky" Alford Guitar
Adam Blackstone Bass
John Legend Vocals
Corinne Bailey Rae Vocals,Background Vocals
Homer Steinweiss Drums
Owen Biddle Bass
Mercedes Martinez Background Vocals
Dap-Kings Horns Track Performer
Dave Guy Trumpet
Technical CreditsGreen Composer,Producer
Russell Elevado Engineer
Larry Gold Strings Orchestrator
James Poyser Composer,Producer
Jon Smeltz Engineer
Richard Nichols Executive Producer
Chalmers Alford Producer
Eli Wolf Executive Producer
Chalmers "Spanky" Alford Producer
Adam Blackstone Producer
Konstantin Dzhibilov Art Direction
William Marshall grooming
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Lay It Down based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
This is a great album by Al Green. Everything all clicks. At times, it does remind you of his '70s hits like Let's Stay Together, I'm Still In Love With You and Love and Happiness, but it sounds very current and contemporary, avoiding retro relapse. The live band, horns and musicians sound superb on every song. And Al still sings with soul and his falsetto is still sharp on here. Liked the guest appearances of John Legend, Anthony Hamilton and Corrine Bailey Rae, but they smartly step back and let Al take the lead in the songs. This album will be talked about 20 to 30 years from now too, because the artistry and musicianship is just superb on this album.
Lay It Down is better than outstanding.It's been a long time coming. Didn't read a review just knew it was Al Green. Have already listened to 4 times......it just gets better. THANKS AL
What a great cd for the outstanding Al Greene....Thank you Al...I needed that......
this cd is one of his best just as all others but this time he put his all in it go big al. rick harris
Outstanding CD truly a must hear from one of the all time greats!Hope it get the air play it deserves!
Welcome back to the Al Green fans used to know. Things have come full circle. This is a nicely made album.