Home Read Albums Of The Week: Eli Paperboy Reed | Down Every Road

Albums Of The Week: Eli Paperboy Reed | Down Every Road

The veteran soul shouter pays tribute to one and only Merle Haggard — and hits the sweet spot between country, soul, blues & R&B — on this outstanding collection.


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Country and soul might seem worlds apart, but they come powerfully together on the new collection from Eli Paperboy ReedDown Every Road, the musician’s tribute to country legend Merle Haggard.

Best known as a soul shouter and balladeer, Reed returns with a 12-song album that reveals country roots dating all the way back to his childhood. From those earliest days sifting through his father’s record collection, it was country music that first captivated Reed’s imagination — the voice of George Jones, the attitude of Waylon Jennings and, above all, the songwriting of Haggard.

“It was so aggressively honest and edgy,” Reed remembers. “He could get to the heart of these extraordinarily complicated emotional sentiments in two-and-a-half minutes, and that was something that really stuck with me.” Even years before his world-class education in the juke joints of Mississippi and gospel choirs of Chicago, it was Merle that first set this soulman on a path to becoming the lauded creator, interpreter and curator of American music he is today.

Photo by Roberto Chamorro.

Down Every Road stems from an idea that Reed has contemplated since the earliest days of his career, setting Haggard favorites against the soul music that he’s become best-known for in his own celebrated work. Keeping almost all of the country legend’s original melodies and song structures intact, Reed brings fresh perspective by adding Pops Staples-inspired guitar, FAME-style production trademarks, Stax horns, ferociously cathartic vocals and organs conjuring Memphis soul. Ultimately, with this deferential but radically reworked approach, he proves that the heart and guts and truth at the core of Haggard’s songwriting defy genre altogether.

Developed alongside frequent musical partner Vince Chiarito (Black Pumas, Charles Bradley) and tracked live to tape at Brooklyn’s Hive Mind Recording with his longtime band of Mike Montgomery (bass) and Noah Rubin (drums), Down Every Road bristles with the same urgent, electric energy that’s helped Reed establish himself as one of the most compelling and consistent soul men of the 21st century.”


Photo by Roberto Chamorro.