Robert Finley is an exceptional blues and soul musician getting well-deserved attention at an age when talent contests aren’t likely to consider him.
Which is a pity, since the 64-year-old, Louisiana native is a gem of a singer — both rough and refined — who lends instant credibility to any song.
His album “Goin’ Platinum” gets high marks for authenticity.
A truncated “Mrs. Robinson”-like riff drives opener “Get It While You Can” and drafts the tonal blueprint for Finley’s second record — reverbed, scratchy guitars, handsome horns, sweet backup vocals, perfectly deft percussion and tasteful piano and organ sounds.
Produced and co-written by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, it includes legendary Memphis Boys Bobby Wood and Gene Chrisman, who backed Elvis Presley, Dusty Springfield and Aretha Franklin. Recorded swiftly at Auerbach’s Nashville studio, the freshness of the grooves on the 10 tunes is infectious.
“Honey, Let Me Stay the Night” is an energetic slice of life echoing a 1960s beach party, except this one’s in a swamp, while “You Don’t Have to Do Right” has the spirit of Richie Havens and a cavernous Duane Eddy guitar solo.
On “Real Love Is Like Hard Time,” co-written by Nick Lowe, Finley — who joined the army as a teenager — has the swagger of Tom Jones, and “Medicine Woman” sounds like a long-lost Bobby Bland side. “Empty Arms” is a hotel song, “the closest thing to home/for a man who’d rather roam,” and Finley’s soaring falsetto on closer “Holy Wine” makes for a moving trip down memory lane.
Finley has had his share of hardships — he is now legally blind and unable to work as a carpenter anymore — but if there are similar albums in his future, may they all go platinum.