Sunday, February 21, 2016

Review: "Heal My Soul" - Jeff Healey

by David Spencer,

Releases of 'new' material from artists no longer on this mortal coil can end up being mostly a disappointment. There have been 'lost' Carpenters tracks released, songs half-recorded by Freddie Mercury turned into full Queen albums and tracks released after Amy Winehouse's death. None of them particularly satisfying and mostly it leaves you feeling a little uneasy that the artists name is being used without their control. Almost exactly eight years after his death aged 41, comes this album of 12 tracks from the blind guitarist Jeff Healey.

Heal My Soul is the first album of new songs recorded by Healey in more than 15 years and it has been lovingly put together under the direct supervision of the Jeff Healey Estate. With that kind of involvement, you get a feeling that nothing here is just thrown together. The estate says it has had complete creative control and describes the music coming from Healey's most productive period. It's been years in the making and there is no doubting the quality of material unearthed. Love In Her Eyes is the type of soaring ballad that Healey produced in his prime in the early to mid nineties. There is a terrific take on Richard Thompson's I Misunderstood and the dream blues of Under A Stone is a delight. Closing It's The Last Time is the highlight of these previously unreleased songs, almost matching some of his classic material from the Hell To Pay album.

Healey died far too young in March 2008 after a three-year battle with sarcoma cancer and this is a worthy addition to his musical legacy. But there is still the sense that the tracks are a collection as opposed to an album of songs with a thread through them. Much much better than it could have been though.