Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves

Racket Magazine


Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves - Ace Of Spades - EP Review

April 20th, 2009 by Racket Magazine

Q Division/Virgin Records


In my time parading around as a “journalist,” I have become spoiled, snotty and sometimes a little bitch. I find myself rarely buying music anymore. Not because I pirate it, but because I really don’t come across that many bands that I want to support financially anymore. Well, I forked over $10 to Eli “Paperboy” Reed and The True Loves for the combo deal of a five song EP and two-song 7” featuring their soul-rendition of Motorhead’s “Ace of Spades”. I don’t regret it one bit. While both have the title track and “I’m Going To Break Every Heart I Can,” the CD EP also has another unreleased track, “Bad Girl” and live versions of “So Tired of Wandering” and “Stake Your Claim”. Reed and his gang are heirs to the crown of Soul music. How a white boy from Boston has channeled the sound of 1960’s Memphis is a testament to how music is cross-cultural, cross-generational, and simply, badass. Eli “Paperboy” Reed and The True Loves are badass.

–Jonathan Yost

NPR 'What Is Soul' Piece

Featured on Morning Edition September 2 2008


What Is Soul?' New Faces Have Answers
By Ashley Kahn

Morning Edition, September 2, 2008 - In 1971, George Clinton, singing with his band Funkadelic, posed the musical question, "What Is Soul?" "A ham hock in your cornflakes," they sang, as one possible definition. Think about it.

Today, as it was then, there's no easy answer. But if you're talking about music, soul is easy to define: It's a gritty, vocal style, filled with a feeling straight out of the black church. Soul music was born in the '50s, took over the charts in the '60s, and remains alive and well today. Soul often has horn sections and sometimes strings, but it doesn't like to be too dressed up with polished production: Soul is more about naked emotion and personal testimony.

Soul music was so prevalent by the end of the '60s that the word itself took on a world of meaning for black America. "Black people identified themselves as soul brothers and soul sisters," says Nelson George, who has been writing about African-American music and culture for more than 30 years. "There were soul shakes, soul haircuts, soul barbershops, soul food. There was a lot of soul. It was so widely used, it almost lost its meaning, quite honestly."

The triumph of Soul music meant a lot, signifying a major shift in popular musical taste in America.

"By the '60s, soul music was mainstream black pop music and became mainstream American music," George says. "Certain styles of music are incredibly connected to the times, and certainly soul music and the '60s are intertwined — things like Aretha Franklin's '(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman,'" Otis Redding's "Try A Little Tenderness." I also think that soul music gets stereotyped by the rawer stuff, and actually there's a quieter tradition from Smokey [Robinson] to Curtis Mayfield and the Delfonics. So I would say that 'La La (Means I Love You)' by the Delfonics is soul music."

Soul music has grown and changed and kept up with the times. Today, it seems to be enjoying a revival.

"You know what? It's always been here," says Sharon Jones, a gospel-trained singer who started performing soul in the '70s. "You're just hearing about it again.

"They say, 'Well, isn't soul, like, black people?' No. Look at my band: young white guys, Jewish guys, or Spanish… You know, it's all mixed up there," she says.

Jones recently released a new album, 100 Days, 100 Nights, with her group The Dap-Kings. Her voice can be a formidable force, especially when it shifts an entire song into high gear.

Jones can sing with sweetness and grace, but she says there's a lot more to it than that. "I think when you go soul, you got to get the ugly face," she says. "Soul is singing with the ugly face."

A new arrival on the soul scene, Eli "Paperboy" Reed is only 24. But he already knows how to sing ugly.

"I was never thinking about capitalizing on some sort of soul revival," Reed says. "My music sounds the way it does 'cause everybody wears their influences on their sleeve. I was listening to 'Drown in My Own Tears' or 'Pain in My Heart' when I was 15 and… having to deal with high-school girls. For me, that was relevant."

Reed's new album, Roll with Me, is marked by a passionate precision and raw intensity.

"There's so much irony in pop music today and aloofness when it comes to audiences, especially in kids my age," Reed says. "I want [audiences], at least for the 45 minutes that you come to see me, to just get caught up in the moment and the emotionalism and let your hair down."

Eli Reed and Sharon Jones are both soul traditionalists. But, according to Jones, there's a lot of good soul singing to be found on today's R&B and pop charts.

"What some people call soul, some people call R&B," Jones says. "I feel Alicia Keys has always had a pretty strong, soulful voice, and Macy Gray is very soulful. Also, Jill Scott and Erykah Badu got her own little style going."

Nelson George has his soul favorites among today's singers. "Keyshia Cole, who's only like 23 years old, is a soul singer. Certainly Usher, and what Amy Winehouse is doing… There's a lot of artists today who access soul music as part of what they do.

"I think what happened is soul never really died," George adds. "It was overcome to some degree by changing production styles, and it's really interesting how the pendulum is swinging back. I think [it has to do with] hip-hop's dominance of black pop culture, and the de facto huge role in mainstream pop is slowly ebbing away."

"So soul music just became kind of a part of the fabric that is American music now," Reed says. "It's spread out all over every genre now."

So what is soul today: still a full-fledged style, or just a flavor? Does it matter? Whether you like it straight-up or blended with other music and innovations, there's a sense that soul is always going to be part of the mix.

"It's the root," Jones says. "You can't get rid of the root."

Ashley Kahn is the author of A Love Supreme: The Story of John Coltrane's Signature Album.



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Stranger Magazine Issue 16

“I just want to make people feel something,” says Reed of his band, The True Loves. “You’ve got to get the audience emotionally involved and make people feel what you’re feeling. That’s the whole point of soul music.” Amen to that.

The Paperboy, so called because of a dapper flat paperboy cap of his grandfather’s he used to don, seemingly has an understanding of this music that far surpasses his 24 years of age. With an impressive vocal range, some vintage threads, a solid band backing him up and some bang-on-the-money production, this is a refreshing tip back to some good ol’ fashioned R&B and soul circa 1967. From the heartfelt ballads (with a nod to Otis Redding and Van Morrisson), to the pitch perfect falsetto screams over dancefloor stompers, Eli Reed socks it to ‘em and then some.

What sets him apart from other artists in this genre is his songwriting and the production, retaining an authentic sound true to the music – a true love of the music to roll with. So let it roll with you: “If a record comes on and makes you want to dance right away, then you’re doing a good job,” he says. “If a record comes on and makes you want to cry right away, then you’re also doing a good job. I think this album does both.” Not that he wants to blow his own trumpet or anything (he plays guitar anyway). (Nick Radford)

The Boston Phoenix on Eli at Lollapalooza




Spin.com review of Lollapalooza show.
Now Toronto pdf Reed’s rebellion
Beantown threat reclaiming classic soul
By Tim Perlich

When you consider which artists have broken out with a throwback soul concept – Joss Stone, Corinne Bailey Rae, Amy Winehouse and more recently James Hunter – they don’t really share an approach, look or specific sound. Yet they’re all British. And with Alice Russell and Baby Charles and Kathrin deBoer waiting in the wings, we haven’t heard the last from the UK.

There hasn’t been much of a response from this side of the Atlantic. Neither Jully Black nor Sharon Jones is proving to be a dominant force.

Unlikely as it may seem, the Yank upstart with the best shot at beating the Brits at their own retro soul game is a cocky 24-year-old hustler in a sharkskin suit from Brookline, Massachusetts, known in Beantown’s coffee shops and corner pubs as Eli “Paperboy” Reed.

He’s not overly impressed with the current UK wave and is determined to reStore some pride in the domestic product. “This whole British thing that’s happening with soul music is kinda weird,” says Reed before a show in Cleve­land. “I mean, it’s awesome that those UK artists have latched onto the sound, but we’ve got to get our due.

“After we play Toronto, we’re heading to Europe to play the festival cir­cuit. I’m really excited about the idea of bringing real American soul music over there à la the Stax/Volt tour of 67, to show the world that the British aren’t the only people who can do soul music right.”

For all the references to Winehouse’s Back To Black album that keep popping up in reviews of Reed’s recent Roll With You (Q Division) disc, he doesn’t seem overly concerned about the comparisons. Just don’t call him retro.

“Amy Winehouse provides listeners who don’t know much about R&B and soul with some context for what we do. People who like Amy Winehouse may not know about Wilson Pickett, but they might hear one of our songs and, because it sounds similar to Back To Black, they’ll check out one of our shows. She definitely took the music to a new place, and I give Mark Ronson a lot of credit for that. I liked her record. It’s not more or less valid than what we do, just different.

“As far as the retro thing goes, as much as I love what James Hunter is doing, that’s retro. I mean, I’m 24, and all the guys in my band are in their 20s. We’re excited to be playing the music we love. It’s definitely influenced by 60s soul, but onstage we’re more like a punk rock band.”

Where Reed has an edge on the competition is in his deep knowledge of soul music and its origins. Our conversation just prior to his SXSW 2008 showcase at Club de Ville in Austin quickly turned to recent ob­scure record finds. After just a few minutes of back-and-forth collector’s banter, it was clear that Reed knows his shit like most musicians and weekend hobbyists don’t.

Home-schooled in classic country, blues, R&B and gospel music by his journalist father, by 13, Reed was blowing blues harp and busking for bills to feed his vinyl habit.

What struck me about seeing the charismatic Reed onstage in Austin was how much of his animated performing style is informed by the gospel greats of the golden era. His ability to work a crowd (and himself) into a sweat doesn’t come across on the studio recording.

“Gospel is probably what I listen to most right now. Those quartet sing­ers, guys like R.H. Harris who founded the Soul Stirrers, Johnny Jones with the Swanee Quintet and Ira Tucker Sr. of the Dixie Hummingbirds, continue to inspire me.”

THE NEW GAY JUNE 02, 2008 Eli "Paperboy" Reed and the Trueloves

He's been described as the "male Any Winehouse," but that doesn't fairly account for just how earnestly Eli Reed is pursuing Otis Redding's intimate wail ethos. Nor does it account for just how comparatively well-behaved he is. Fine that Miss Amy *sounds* like an early 1960s songstress, but Eli *feels* Redding-esque, like a 21st century Sam Cooke or Teddy Pendergrass. Not too shabby for a mild-mannered Boston boy.

The thing that makes his debut album incredible to me is that it manages to take a long glance back at Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett without coming off as referential or nostalgic (unlike Amy's Back to Black). And, when you're wailing over a sharp horn section and crispy guitar riffs, that's saying something. Eli somehow manages to find new musical ground to till here, and he does so with an energy that, like all great soul singers, makes you believe he's discovering the emotions behind the wail right there while he's singing…every time out.

This album is absolutely solid from top to bottom, and deftly oscillates between Otis-like intimate soul ballads and Wall-of-Sound 50s era rock-soul. Personal fave: "I'm Gonna Getcha."

Two other NBs: 1) He put out a 45 of the album, and it is, by far, the best way to listen, assuming anyone you know has a record player. (A what? Exactly.) 2) Eli's sweat-laden live performances/musical brushfire revivals could be a whole other post by themselves but, suffice it to say, they have more raw energy and musical ability (including the band's) than the already-powerful album conveys. Lucky for you, he's touring this summer.

Emerging artist on MTV Italy  

June 2008 Lead Review in Mojo

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# 25 on Blender's 33 Most Wanted Songs in America

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Mojo Live Show Preview August 2008

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Stereophile May 2008

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