Shake What God Gave Ya
Country music’s history of soul-influenced songs is well-established, and James Otto brings that influence to the forefront with his raw, impassioned style. His “Groovy Little Summer Song” already put some sunny, blue-eyed soul into radio playlists this past summer. While the majority of James’ album focuses on lighthearted or romantic fare, “Soldiers & Jesus” is a rare somber moment that muses on the mutual sacrifices made by the military and the Messiah. James returns to his sultry forte with “Lover Man,” co-written by “Just Got Started Lovin’ You” co-writer Jim Femino. The intense party atmosphere on “Shake What God Gave Ya” is enhanced by James’ co-writing pal Shannon Lawson, and the celebration continues in spite of a tanking economy on “It’s a Good Time (for a Good Time).” James’ voice is at its best on the aching ballad “Let’s Just Let Go” and the Ronnie Milsap-esque “She Comes to Me.” Ronnie and James team up for a stunning take on Ronnie’s “Good Things Gone Bad,” bringing the country-soul full circle.