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Album of the Week: 'Human Decency' by Sugaray Rayford

A photo of soul-blues singer Sugaray Rayford. He is wearing a white cowboy hat and a brown paisley sport coat and his hands are holding a microphone. In multi-colored letters the word "human" is above him and "decency" is below.
Forty Below Records
Human Decency is the latest album from Texas soul-blues singer Sugaray Rayford.

'Human Decency' by Sugaray Rayford is KAXE's Album of the Week for May 13-19, 2024.

With an eye toward a changing and increasingly divisive world, and instrumental nods to '70s soul and funk, Texas singer Sugaray Rayford's latest album is modern and relevant blues music.

Rayford is no stranger to using his booming voice to discuss issues in society. "Invisible Soldier," a track from his 2022 album In Too Deep, shined a light on army veterans who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder. On Human Decency, he expands to topics like privilege, modern technology and climate change.

The album begins with "Failing Upwards," a takedown of the lack of meritocracy in society. Rayford describes a man whose wealth and "good looks and boyish charm" carry him through life. The funky guitar riff and short stabs of organ recall the '70s work of artists like Al Green and Ann Peebles on Hi-Records.

It is Rayford's second collaboration with Eric Corne, who produced, engineered and mixed the album. Corne's clear knowledge of soul, funk and R&B give the singer a strong base to work from in a variety of styles.

They switch to some Meters-inspired New Orleans funk on "Stuck Between," featuring fellow Forty Below Records musician Sam Morrow. The two trade verses about struggling to adapt to modern society. What they are stuck between is "man" and "machine."

"Run For Cover" is simultaneously a call to address climate change and a lament for the warning signs already missed.

Rayford grew up singing and playing drums in church from the age of 7, and that gospel influence is another genre that appears in his music. There is real conviction when he asks "Oh Lord, what have we done? Turned Mother Nature to a loaded gun."

Must Listens

  • "Failing Upwards"
  • "Human Decency"
  • "Stuck Between"
  • "Strawberry Hill"
  • "Run For Cover"
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Malachy started his radio career at a college radio station, where he played weird music in the middle of the night to possibly no one. On a good night maybe his parents were listening. Nonetheless, he was hooked on public radio and is still doing it today. He joined Northern Community Radio in 2022, where he gets to share his passion for local music as Producer of Centerstage Minnesota, an all Minnesota music show airing Fridays at 2pm.