BY MICHAEL BERICK
Take nothing away from the band – the Nashville-based Dynamites certainly are a sharp, muscular soul/funk outfit; however, Charles Walker is Mr. Dynamite. Billing him in the “featuring” role makes Walker seem like a supporting player but he is the main man. Whether being the seductive crooner as he is on “Wakie, Wakie” or the exuberant shouter on the high-energy showstopper “So Much More To Do,” the powerhouse singer commands attention.
The 72-year-old is part of the new wave of old soul singers – Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, Lee Fields, and Bettye LaVette (his duet partner here on the stirring ballad “Yours and Mine”) – who are demonstrating that they still have a lot of musical life left in them. Although traces of James Brown and such Stax stars as Otis Redding and Wilson Pickett surface on this disc, Walker’s expressive vocals hold a personality distinctively his own. On the frisky “Keep Close,” he works up some real sparks as he trades lines with the young songstress Lucy Woodward, while his pain feels quite real when Walker goes pleading on “Please Open Up The Door.”
Walker and the Dynamites demonstrate that they are a particularly formidable team on the album’s up-tempo tunes like “Serendipity,” “I Just Want To Do” and the title track. The disc’s standout track, however, “I Just Want To Know,” which sounds like a lost soul classic. While guitarist Leo Black and organist Tyrone Dickerson lead the rhythm section through a groove that would have made Booker T and the MGs’ proud, Walker lays his heart on his sleeve to his lost love, with his heartache underscored by the horn section.
Walker and the Dynamite smoothly succeed in what they set out to do on Love Is Only Everything – record a timeless-sounding soul album that recorded in 1965 or today.
DOWNLOAD: “Serendipity,” “I Just Want To Know”