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At this point in his career, Eli Paperboy Reed has been around for almost twenty years and is a veteran of neo-soul. There are a lot of artists you would expect him to release a covers album of. James Brown, Sam Cooke, The Staples Singers... but Merle Haggard? "Mama Tried" is the first single off Reed's Merle Haggard covers album Down Every Road. Haggard is one of those artists I know I should be more familiar with, but Reed turns "Mama Tried" into a soul standard as opposed to classic country. This sounds like pure 70's soul with the beginnings of disco just starting to poke in. Reed makes this song sound like it's straight out of a variety show from fifty years ago. Maybe this won't be perfect for Merle Haggard purists, but for fans of Eli Paperboy Reed and/or classic soul are going to love it.
In a press release, Reed says of first hearing Merle Haggard:
“It was so aggressively honest and edgy. He could get to the heart of these extraordinarily complicated emotional sentiments in two-and-a-half minutes, and that was something that really stuck with me.”
You can listen to Eli Paperboy Reed's cover of "Mama Tried" below. Down Every Road is due out April 29 on Yep Rock Records and can be pre-ordered/pre-saved here. For more on Eli Paperboy Reed, check out the artist's website.