Joy is the latest release from John Rooney. It was recorded at Studio 606 in LA, the home of the legendary Sound City Neve desk. The album was produced by Don Dixon with a clear intention to deliver a textured sound which is both warm and invigorating.
Rooney took inspiration from Joe Cocker’s Mad Dogs and Englishmen; from the outset he wanted a master groove laid down with interplay between keyboards, horns and backing vocals.
Rooney’s love of the Muscle Shoals sound prompted him to contact Spooner Oldham to play keyboards, and an introduction to drummer Jim Keltner soon followed.
Dixon knew that Rooney wanted a second keyboard player so he reached out to his good friend ‘the heartbreaker’ Benmont Tench who was thrilled to get the call. As Benmont would later kindly post on Instagram:
“JR! Getting to play with Spooner was a life-long dream for me. Thank you! Let’s do some more!”
To assist in laying down the grooves, Don Was and Chris Chaney share the bass, while Rusty Anderson and Mitch Easter are on guitars.
A unique blend of southern soul with a hint of the west coast evolves throughout the album. It is then embellished by the Uptown Horns, whose playing is interwoven with an ethereal style of backing vocals. The delicate merging of both demonstrates pure genius on the part of Dixon and his production.
The songs, once again, see Rooney take us on an observational and, at times, reflective emotional journey through life’s ups and downs including love, loss and loneliness, and the frailties of the human spirit. His vocal delivery is sweet and intimate.
All ten songs on the album Joyseamlessly take the listener on an aural experience which ends as good as it starts. The quality of the songs lends themselves to the ensemble.
Mixed by Mitch Easter with his trademark hi-fi signature, and produced by Don Dixon, this album will delight any fan of southern soul.