Eli 'Paperboy' Reed Channels Soul's Giants
Just who does Eli "Paperboy" Reed think he is? The reincarnation of the wicked Wilson Pickett? A skillful James Brown imitator? Winner of the Austin Chronicle's award for "best Otis Redding impersonation by a 23-year-old Jewish boy from Massachusetts"?
The answers: Yes, yes, and yes. Now 24, Reed spent his 18th year singing in the juke joints of Mississippi, and Delta DNA must have seeped into his bloodstream. Reed, who owes his nickname to a favorite paperboy-style hat, goes for the sound of Southern soul, circa 1968: thick and juicy horns riding up and down the scales, stinging and slashing guitar riffs, fat drum beats. They're all there on "(Am I Just) Fooling Myself," a soul-drenched slow drag for a woman who stole a man's heart, then stole away.
There's a bit of a double meaning going on in Reed's self-penned song. Can he possibly match the intensity of the soul kings of four decades ago, or is he just fooling himself? One thing is clear: Like the late, great singers he idolizes, the Yankee pretender croons with tear-jerking tenderness, shrieks like an in-tune banshee, and turns clichés into bittersweet truths about the illusory nature of love.
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