Sugaray Rayford is back with In Too Deep, a modern take on retro-soul that explores the themes of love, loneliness & pertinent social issues of today. This collection of poignant material will drop via Forty Below Records on March 4, 2022.
A chance meeting in Memphis in 2018 laid the groundwork for a unique musical partnership between soul-blues powerhouse Sugaray Rayford and producer, songwriter Eric Corne. Combining classic soul melodies with funky R & B grooves, raw blues power, and mashed-up with modern sensibilities, the pair’s first collaboration, Somebody Save Me, earned Rayford a 2020 Grammy nomination. Later that year, Rayford took home Blues Music Awards for ‘Soul Blues Male Artist’ and ‘B.B. King Entertainer of the Year.’
The summer of 2021 took things further, with the release of the adventurous new single “Homemade Disaster.” The song found its home on multiple retro-soul and new blues playlists on Spotify, with PopMatters declaring that the track “will appeal to fans of Gary Clark Jr. and Chicano Batman.”
Now they are back with In Too Deep, Rayford’s second full-length effort for Forty Below Records.
The album opens with “Invisible Soldier,” a song inspired by Rayford’s struggles with insomnia from PTSD. The track serves as a reminder that our cities and communities are full of veterans struggling with the aftershocks of war and how it’s invisible to most fellow citizens because they’re in plain clothes.
Rayford, a 10-year Marine, explains, “I shared with Eric some of what I was going through, and he asked me what I thought about putting it in a song, and that’s where “Invisible Soldier” and “In Too Deep” came from. I wanted to sing about social issues as well as just general feelings of love and loneliness and everything in between.”
Rayford is a dynamic performer known to put his band through its paces with abrupt feel and style changes. Rayford thrives on funky up-tempo grooves, as evident in another standout song, “Miss Information,” which has already received airplay on BBC2’s The Blues Show with Cerys Matthews. The song explodes out of the blocks with African flavored horns and percussion on top of a Farfisa organ, wah-wah guitar, and layered harmonies. Rayford delivers a tour de force performance like only he can, making some heavy points while keeping it fun.
In “Please, Take My Hand,” Rayford raises the voices of generations who’ve struggled and persevered with love in the face of oppression, accompanied only by a spare bass drum, handclaps, and cowbell.
Rayford reveals a whole other side on the soulful and sensual “No Limit to My Love,” expressive orchestral harp, horns, flutes, and strings along with some of the funkiest lead guitar this side of Bobby Womack, courtesy of Eamon Ryland. It could fit just as easily next to Silk Sonic as Bobby Blue Bland.
“Golden Lady of the Canyon” is a lush soul-country flavored ballad infused with strings, horns, and Stax-style guitar work by Mavis Staples’ bandleader Rick Holmstrom. Rayford’s soulful croon rising and falling plaintively; it’s sure to please fans of the title track from his Grammy-nominated album, Somebody Save Me.