Since the first time I heard Al Green (on "Tired of Being Alone", around 1970) I have regarded him as the paramount Soul man, His partnership with Willie Mitchell in the 70's produced some of the most consistent and superb music of that or any other era, and which came to define Soul for many. Soul went out of fashion around the time Al "retired" to his Memphis church, and he has struggled to reach anything approaching those dizzy heights since his return to secular music.
He is not alone in that. Nor is it unique to hitch up with current star names. There have been many attempts by 60's and 70's artists to recreate their success, and the fact that only a few have pulled it off tells you that it takes more than an up to date who's who. What it does take is that those involved have respect - for both the artist and for the work he did, and the ability to draw on that, bring it up to date and avoid cliche. They have managed it on "Lay It Down".
Here they provide what Al Green had in the 70's - a framework where his vocal can run in and out as he pleases, where he can swoop and soar and ad lib as the mood takes him and where his voice is, at times, just another instrument. As for individual tracks, the title track has a beautiful chorus across which Al whoops and wails and "Just For Me" could have lifted the rhythm track from "Let's Stay Together" (but it didn't).
Anyway, you get the picture - this is a real Soul album, from the master of the genre, which stands comparison with Al Green's classic 70's albums - yes it is that good. All of those involved on "Lay It Down" deserve enormous credit for creating a truly superb album - if you love Soul, what are you waiting for, just buy it