CMJ Artist Profile: Eli “Paperboy” Reed

The band, the style and the man have all the makings of the soul revival, and there’s one thing that’s requisite of that categorization in this day and age, and that’s energy. Eli “Paperboy” Reed and The True Loves deliver the force, class and flash along with the likes of Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Raphael Saadiq and Amy Winehouse.

But when you try to carve a niche grounded in a genre of legends, you’re bound to be compared to them. I’d be lying if I said the “Paperboy” was the cream. While the singer-songwriter delivers an amazing performance, with an equally-trained talent for instrumentals and lyrics, his vocals don’t carry quite the charisma and pique that those before him have trained my ears to covet. Though “Paperboy” Reed and his tunes evoke the rhythm and liveliness of Otis Redding and James Brown, the Boston-born performer’s less-than silky and slightly rustic vocals elicit something a little more on the rock and roll and country side of things. On the other hand, Reed’s differentiation may be enough to define him apart from the rest and give him a uniqueness that can be equally coveted in today’s modern twist on one of the most hip-thrusting musical categories of our time.

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That said, I highly doubt the “blue-eyed” son of soul, gospel, rock and roll and funk couldn’t put down a stellar performance that would have even the harshest critic trembling in his or her dancing shoes. And, given his immense talent and inherent soul of soul, the up and coming “Paperboy” has been recently signed to Capitol Records, meaning you’re bound to hear more. So, if you’re headed to the CMJ Music Festival this year, this one gets an unmistakable recommendation, especially if you’re in the mood to shake your groove thing.

Eli “Paperboy” Reed will play Thursday, Oct. 21 at (Le) Poisson Rouge. Doors open at 6 p.m. and the show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12.

For a free listen, check out his website at