-- Last week saw release of The Royal Sessions, Paul Rodgers' first solo studio album since 2000's Electric. For the project, the founding Free and Bad Company frontman traveled to Memphis' famed Royal Studios and recorded a collection of classic soul, blues and R&B tunes with a group of veteran local musicians.
"It's all music that I remember from my youth," Rodgers tells ABC News Radio. "A lot of Stax [Records] material -- Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes. You know, these people really influenced me when I was growing up…in my singing and my songwriting, and so it was really nice to have the opportunity to go to Memphis and record these songs with these amazing players."
Although he's known first and foremost as a rock artist, the British singer notes that the music on The Royal Sessions "has always been in back of everything I've done in many respects." He adds, "So, it was good to come full circle back to it, and it felt like coming home."
Rodgers explains that he developed an immediate rapport with the studio musicians, some of whom played on the original versions of the songs he recorded for The Royal Sessions. Paul points out that when he went into the studio for the first session, his collaborators didn't know who he was.
"They had been told that I was a singer and a songwriter, and I was just coming in for some sessions, so there [were] no preconceived ideas on anybody's part," he says. "They didn't know me, I didn't know them, and we just simply communicated musically. And from the get-go it really felt comfortable. We were speaking the same language."
Rodgers tells ABC News Radio that he rarely listens to his own albums after he finishes them, but The Royal Sessions has been an exception. He credits the excellent sound quality of the recording, which was made entirely on analog equipment, as well as the playing of the session guys.
"The musicians weave such an incredibly magical spell between themselves [and] there are little interplays," he declares. "I've listened to the record a hundred times and I'd suddenly [notice,] 'Oh wow, I didn't hear that before.'…There's so much subtlety and taste between them, and conversation."
Rodgers will kick off a short tour in support of The Royal Sessions on April 29 in Englewood, New Jersey. He reports that those shows will include a couple of songs from the album, but mainly will feature classics from Bad Company, Free and his earlier solo catalog. Paul says he'd love to take his Royal Sessions collaborators out on the road with him, but currently has no plans to so. He will play a few songs with the guys when he heads back to Memphis for a CD release party scheduled this Saturday at the Stax Museum of American Soul Music.
As a thank-you to Memphis for all the great music the city has produced, Rodgers is donating all of the proceeds raised by the album to the Stax Music Academy, a school that provides music education to young people from the area.
The Royal Sessions is available for purchase a 10-track standard CD and digital download, a 200-gram audiophile vinyl LP and Amazon exclusive deluxe CD with three bonus tracks.
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