With a few albums already under his belt, soulman Eli “Paperboy” Reed is switching gears from the secular to the spiritual. The genre switch also comes at a time when Reed is moving from a major label (Warner), an experience he summarizes as “frustrating but not necessarily malicious,” back to an indie (Yep Roc), which he describes thus far as amazing and a label that’s “malleable and responsive to artists looking for careers, not just hits.” However, don’t take his move to gospel as hipster revivalism. Reed has been a gospel junkie for years, thanks in part to his father who would regularly spin The Soul Stirrers and The Blind Boys Of Mississippi in his household growing up.
Major labels proved not to be a welcome fit for retro-soul-blues revivalist Eli "Paperboy" Reed. Neither Come and Get It!, his 2010 album for Capitol, nor 2014's gussied-up wannabe crossover Nights Like This brought in the wider audience they so desperately worked to attain, leaving the guitarist to pursue an indie direction for 2016's My Way Home. The title makes it plain that Reed believes he's the prodigal son returning to his roots and, fittingly, My Way Home has a considerable gospel bent in its 11 songs.
A brief sampling of any of the four albums Eli Paperboy Reed released between 2005 and 2014 would prove his skills as a soul/blues shouter worthy of comparisons to Sam Cooke and Otis Redding. Despite the fact that he was born decades after the deaths of these two giants, his singing, guitar playing, and horn-fused arrangements and compositions culminate in an authentic throwback to ‘60s R&B that comes along only once in a blue moon (or twice, if you want to include the late Ms. Winehouse, which you should).