The first time I listened to Eli “Paperboy” Reed’s upcoming record, My Way Home, I assumed it was an album of covers. The songs carry an immediately iconic weight, which evoke the imagery of old gospel standards from the ’60s and ’70s. Everything about the LP — from Reed’s gravely howl to the silky-smooth harmony of his backup singers — is dripping with gospel authenticity. That’s why I was surprised to learn that the songs on My Way Home are 100% original, written by Reed over the course of just a few weeks.
In fact, Reed has been playing soul-inspired music for more than a decade. He served as the minister of music at Southside church in Chicago before moving to Boston, where he wrote and recorded his first full length album, Roll with You. It wasn’t long before major label deals were offered and Reed’s songs were optioned for major motion pictures, TV shows, and commercials. His follow up albums, Come and Get it and Nights Like This, earned more than two million dollars in licensing before an unfortunate turn of events ended Reed’s contract with Warner Bros. Records.
Free of a grueling tour schedule, Reed found himself involved with Gospel for Teens, an arts education program for at-risk youths based in New York City. It was while teaching gospel quartets that Reed was encouraged to write and record the kind of music that first inspired him: gospel.
I recently caught up with Reed to talk about his new album, the artists that inspire him, and his addiction to collecting 45 RPM records.
So I’ve been listening to My Way Home a lot this week. I was actually listening to it this morning, it’s really good.
Thanks, man. I appreciate it.