No one can do Ray Charles like brother Ray himself, not even with the three superstars, Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis and Norah Jones, came together.
Listening to Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles makes me want to return to The Birth of the Soul box set. Brother Ray brought so much soul into his songs that Willie Nelson’s laid-back style came across as plain lazy. “Hit the Road Jack” and “Busted” for example, Ray sang with so much anguish that you can feel his pain, even though the lyrics suggested otherwise, whereas Nelson just sounded worn out. On “What’d I Say,” Ray’s moaning part was so damn seductive whereas Nelson’s “heys” and “hos” sounded like he needed some viagra to get it up, and Marsalis should stick to the trumpet rather than trying to micmic Ray.
Norah Jones’s version of “Come Rain or Come Shine” was soothing and Marsalis’s solo added a touch of tenderness to the tune. While the vocals are lackluster, Here We Go Again has enjoyable moments thanks to Marsalis’s traditional-but-sensational arrangement.