Today, Robert Finley announced Sharecropper’s Son, the career-defining new album from “the greatest living soul singer,” released on Easy Eye Sound/Concord, on May 21 2021. A soulful masterpiece written by Finley and co-written and produced by Dan Auerbach, Sharecropper’s Son features blues veterans and studio legends who have worked with everyone from Elvis to Wilson Pickett.
The announcement was accompanied by “Souled Out On You,” the album’s debut track, which was released today, along with a striking video directed by Tim Hardiman, which featured Dan Auerbach on guitar.
“Souled Out On You,” is “the story of a relationship that’s ending,” Finley explained, adding, “It’s about someone who takes on everything in the relationship. All the good and the bad and even after all of that, they notice that it just isn’t going to work out and the relationship has run its course. I took all I could take and I’m starting my life over.”
Finley has always been a consummate entertainer and sensational soul singer, but when he lost his sight, he became an overnight success after 67 years of hard work. Finley has a voice that has stood the test of time and can glide from a gut-deep growl to a transcendent falsetto, all in a single phrase. Rooted in the vintage sounds of southern soul, country, rhythm and blues, Sharecropper’s Son showcases Finley’s formidable vocals, which take centre stage and encapsulate his remarkable life story and reflect on his childhood during the Jim Crow era south. Finley’s stories of pain and joy will uplift as he shares his belief that you are never too young to dream and never too old to live.
Finley is an army veteran and was a skilled carpenter before losing his sight in his 60s to finally pursue his musical dream. Finley has overcome divorce, house fires, an automobile accident and is legally blind following losing his sight due to the medical condition, glaucoma, which forced him to retire from carpentry and finally pursue his long delayed music career. Finley believes his sight was improved by the power of prayer and Finley’s faith has also helped him focus on launching his music career in his 60’s. According to Finley, “losing my sight gave me the perspective to see my true destiny.”
His ascent has been swift. His Auerbach produced previous album, Goin’ Platinum, received widespread critical acclaim. Auerbach saw Finley’s potential straight away, proclaiming him “the greatest living soul singer.” “He walked in like he was straight out of the swamp.” Auerbach recalled, adding, “He had leather pants, snakeskin boots, a big country & Western belt buckle, a leather cowboy hat and a three-quarter-length leather duster. The final touch was the folding cane the legally blind Finley wore on his hip, in a holster. Basically, he was dressed for national television.”
Currently living in Bernice, in North-Central Louisiana, Finley is one of eight children, and was born in Winnsboro, Louisiana in 1953. Song’s including Sharecropper’s Son’s title track, were inspired by Finley’s childhood. His family were Sharecroppers and he was unable to regularly attend school and often worked with his family in the field picking cotton. He later attended a segregated school but dropped out in the 10th grade to go into employment.
“I was ready to tell my story, and Dan and his guys knew me so well by then that they knew it almost like I do, so they had my back all the way.” Finley stated, reflecting back on his childhood stories that inspired the record, “Working in the cotton fields wasn’t a pleasant place to be, but it was part of my life. I went from the cotton fields to Beverly Hills. We stayed in the neighbourhood most of our childhood. It wasn’t really all that safe to be out by yourself. One of the things I love about music is that, when I was a boy growing up in the South, nobody wanted to hear what I had to say or what I thought about anything. But when I started putting it in songs, people listened.”
With songwriting by Finley, Auerbach, Bobby Wood, and contributions from respected country songwriter Pat McLaughlin, Sharecropper’s Son also features an all star band including guitar expertise from Auerbach himself, Mississippi hill country’s Kenny Brown – a blues veteran of R.L. Burnside’s band, and studio legends Russ Pahl, Billy Sanford and Louisiana guitarist Billy Sanford. They are joined by other notables: keyboardist and songwriter Bobby Wood and drum legend Gene Chrisman, who both played a historic role in Memphis and Nashville music. The line-up was completed by bass contributions from dap king Nick Movshon, blues legend Eric Deaton and former Johnny Cash bandmate Dave Roe, as well as a full horn section, and percussion from Sam Bacco.
The fire behind the conflagrant performances on Sharecropper’s Son is ignited by 67-year-old Finley, who has cited a range of vocal influences, including Al Green, Jimmi Hendrix, Ray Charles, Elvis, James Brown and The Beatles, all inspiring his genre diverse approach. Finley stated, “I want people to understand that I can’t be kept in a box. I like to do all kinds of music—everything that means anything to me, from gospel to blues to soul to country to rock ‘n’ roll.”
Sharecropper’s Son will be released on May 21 on Easy Eye Sound. There will be an exclusive sunrise yellow vinyl, available from the Easy Eye Sound store only.
1 Souled Out On You
2 Make Me Feel Alright
3 Sharecropper’s Son
4 Better Than I Treat Myself
5 Country Child
6 Starting To See
7 I Can Feel Your Pain
8 My Story
9 Country Boy
10 All My Hope
*Feature image courtesy of Steve Karas