The last time Huey Lewis and the News recorded new studio material, it was a joke. Literally. The band placed its collective tongue firmly in its cheek and performed the theme song to Seth Rogen's 2008 stoner comedy, Pineapple Express. With a sound strikingly similar to seminal '80s hits like "I Need a New Drug," the Bitterroot Valley's most famous resident sang brain-dead lyrics like, "I got you, you got me, and we're as high as we can be. So it's all right."
Soulsville couldn't be more different. Whereas the Pineapple cameo worked to playfully reintroduce Lewis to a younger generation, the new album is most definitely a nod to the band's more earnest (and older) fans. The collection of 14 covers mines the Stax Records' vault for classic soul ballads like "Respect Yourself" and "Got to Get You Off My Mind." It was recorded with the band's long-time horn section, and reunites Lewis with the same producer who worked with him on chart-topping albums Sports and Fore!.
It's a low-risk setup for a band that hasn't recorded a full album in nine years, and hasn't been relevant in 25. But it works for what it is. Lewis' raspy, barroom vocals carry each track, and are framed by tight arrangements full of soulful backup singers and blaring horns. Lewis may never recapture—or escape from—his past success, but Soulsville serves as a respectable spot to kick up his heels in the meantime.