Eli "Paperboy" Reed looks like he wandered out of some different era, a dressier one where Roy Orbison would feel at home. At a mere glance, Reed wouldn't strike you as a soul singer channeling southern blues and churchy gospel funk. You'd probably think he was some run of the mill crooner. But that's where you'd be wrong. Eli Paperboy Reed
has done it all - from playing organ in Southside Chicago church, to busking on the street, to rocking out with Daryl Hall. The guy has a wide range of experiences to draw from, and it shows in his music, which gravitates towards blue eyed soul but also pays dues to rock, funk, and pop. Live, Reed and his band deliver hot jams - he fronts the group with his guitar in hand, while the horns, backup singers, keys, drums, and bass go at it. Because his band has gigged for so long, the live set is as tight as can be - perfect for dancing with yourself. James Brown is an obvious influence on the funky side of things, but smoother, poppier Motown sounds also bubble up from Reed's soul. Reed, like most singer songwriters, struggled and paid his dues before ending up on one of the major labels, Warner Brothers. But despite heaps of critical acclaim, Reed only put out one major label record before he was dropped - a low blow, but one that didn't stop him. When he sings, you know that he has the emotions to back up the songs, they aren't just words put to a tune with punchy horns. Eli Paperboy Reed is a singer, but he reaches audiences as if he were a minister - using music to reach inside, grab a listener's soul, and give it a shake.