As a brief side note, I wanted to address those of you who might be skeptical about a well-known (and well-paid… and British!) actor tackling an album of music deeply rooted in the American South. I've been listening to this album for a few months, since receiving an import copy of the UK release. If you've enjoyed Joe Henry's production work on albums like Allen Toussaint's The Bright Mississippi or Aaron Neville's I Know I've Been Changed, you owe it to yourself to check out Laurie's record. Though neither of those examples are likely to produce favorable comparisons, Laurie has his own unique style as vocalist and pianist. His passion for the music is evident, and his generosity to his fellow musicians (including guest vocalists Dr. John, Irma Thomas and Tom Jones) breathes life into the recordings. At the moment, I'd place this record in my top five of Joe Henry's productions (outside of his own work) simply because it's such a rich and vibrant recording. If it's not the most thought-provoking thing you hear this year (JH's own Reverie is just around the corner, after all), it is certainly one of the most exuberant records you're likely to run across.