Eli ‘Paperboy’ Reed‘s fifth studio album My Way Home is a jokey take an gospel soul, a copycat effort that is at best a novelty. It lacks authenticity, has no discernible identity, and is predictable in every way; pageantry at its finest. Reed is your typical tourist and it manifests in both sound and style.
With a name like My Way Home you’d expect his narratives to be filled with pain, heartache and redemption. But not here, not even in the slightest. Instead what you get are tired tropes and weather beaten platitudes, all of which shows that Reed has little authority on the subject of soul.
Reed’s version of “Cut Ya Down” is as watered down as stadium beer. It lacks authority and is a pitiful attempt at trying to cosign on someone else’s experience. The emotions are borrowed and it dissolves quickly under scrutiny: [LISTEN]
If you need to be convinced of his novelty status you don’t have to look any further than a hard copy of the album, which (with a few extra dollars) comes with a bottle of hot sauce. It’s a shtick, a gimmick, a one dimensional run at a bygone era; his style tantamount to a night of googling Otis Redding performances.
Reed’s manufactured style is apparent on songs like “Your Sins Will Find You Out.” It’s a bold statement laced with damnation, but coming from Reed it sounds weak and petty. And no amount of wailing or leaky organs can save it:
My Way Home is a tourist town full of gags and trinkets, the Wisconsin Dells of funk. There is no perspective because all the flavors are siphoned from somewhere else. This type of training wheel soul is a diluted product and it’s laughable how he was able to fake his way to the spotlight.