Jeffrey Halford has been around a long time purveying his brand of blue-eyed soul in the tradition of singers such as Dan Penn, Eddie Hinton and Donnie Fritts. ‘Soul Crusade’ is something like Halford’s tenth album with his band The Healers, the first being released back in 1999 so Halford and his band are no newcomers.
‘Soul Crusade’ is made up of eleven tracks with everything from the funky, swampy interestingly titled ‘Pie Eyed Poet’s Plea’ to the old-time country sounding ‘Sad Sinking Feeling’ via the gospel infused ‘Walk By The River’. There are also one or two delightful ballads such as ‘Wandering Kind’ with its ethereal pedal steel and there’s also the acoustic blues of ‘Sinner Man’. Along the way, Halford sings about a groupie, restlessness, sin, refugees and sex – seemingly quite a lot about sex! All eleven songs were written by Halford although four of them are co-writes with Don Zimmer and all are suffused with Halford’s emotional vocals.
Although born in Dallas, Halford has spent most of his life in California where this album was recorded although you can still hear the echoes of Halford’s Texas roots in his soulful voice. Apart from Halford on guitars and vocals, The Healers are Adam Rossi on keyboards, bass and drums (and who co-produced the album with Halford), Mike Anderson on bass and Aaron Halford on vocals, guitar and bass. Backing vocals are from The Floating Angels, Hannah Halford and Kira Kessel. There are also guest appearances from Tom Heyman on pedal steel (on ‘Wandering Kind’), Bruce Kaphan on pedal steel (on ‘Picture In My Mind’), Mark Karan guitar (on ‘Another Skyline’) and Vicki Randle on vocals (on ‘Picture In My Mind’). Bill McHeath plays bass on a number of tracks and Kevin White also plays bass on a couple of songs – there’s a lot of bass players on this album although in no way is it bass heavy. ‘Soul Crusade’ is a bit of a Halford family affair with Halford’s children Aaron and Hannah appearing on the album and that family warmth and closeness shines throughout the album.
Halford cites Taj Mahal, Los Lobos, George Thorogood, Greg Allman, Etta James and John Hammond as just some of his musical influences and you can hear echoes of all of them one track or another. Jeffrey Halford & The Healers have been around for a long time and judging by ‘Soul Crusade’ they’ll be around for quite some time yet.