Lee Fields & The Expressions are ready to change the weather in Phoenix. Meteorologists are predicting a downpour of tenderness.
Fields is a soul singer who’s been belting out tunes and rocking smooth moves since the ’60s. These days, his primary motivation is spreading good vibes. The band’s newest release is appropriately titled It Rains Love, and Fields explains how they collaboratively approached these 10 powerful tunes.
“The Expressions bring the tracks, and I bring the vocals and create arrangements with their input,” Fields says. “There are so many negative things right now that has everybody concerned, so while making It Rains Love, we thought it would be a good idea not to focus on all of the negativities, but to let people know there is a panacea, and that it is love.”
The record doesn’t waste time conveying its broad message. The title track kickstarts the release. Fields’ rich voice rises from the bottom of his being, grabbing pieces of his heart and soul as it pours out to deliver its message: “I may not be the richest man / But I’m gonna give you everything I can / I always try to do my best / When I fall short, I let love do the rest.” Sultry and sweeping horns help carry the song.
At their live show, attendees can expect a mix of new Expressions songs with older tunes from the band’s time together, which reached a decade this year. With more than 40 years under his belt, don’t expect any covers, and don’t be surprised if Fields brings in one of his classics.
“We don’t do any covers, but we might bring in a song here or there from an earlier period,” says Fields. “Sometimes, I’ll go off of the mood from the crowd and might do something in particular if it feels like it fits.”
Regardless of the setlist, Fields and crew want to set a happy mood. “We want to see people smiling and jumping. That’s what we shoot for from the beginning. We want to put people in joyful and euphoric states,” he says.
It sounds like it’s working. “People tell us things like ‘I’ve never felt this way before,’ or ‘I just had the best night of my life,’” Fields says with both honor and humility.
During his lengthy career — he released his first single in 1969 — Fields has worked with a variety of artists. There’s Kool & The Gang, Bobby Womack, and B.B. King, to name just a few.
Early on, James Brown was a big influence, and Fields’ vocal sound and brash moves earned him the nickname “Little J.B.” He’s never been mad about the comparison.
“I have always been a big fan of James, and I have always been able to hear the similarities in our looks and styles,” Fields says. “It’s a great compliment. I know that there’s a big distinction between us, and I’ve never been an imitator. I always loved his music. James Brown and The Beatles were two of my biggest influences.”
In the early ’80s, he took a 10-year break to support his wife and children. Looking back, Fields says that he might have had more commercial success if he wrote in a more formulaic manner, but that wealth and fame have never been his sources of inspiration.
“I like singing songs of substance,” says Fields. “I don’t want to make trivial songs. I want to make my children and their children proud of the songs I’ve written and the music I’ve helped to create.”
Lee Fields & The Expressions are scheduled to perform on Thursday, December 5, at Crescent Ballroom. Tickets are $25 to $28 via Eventbrite.
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