Shining Through the Rain shows that sixty-two-year-old Percy Sledge can still locate the emotional essence of a song, as he did so unforgettably on "When a Man Loves a Woman," his 1966 debut single. Producers Saul Davis and Barry Goldberg designed the album to mimic the soulful, laid-back vibe of Norala Studios in Sheffield, Alabama, where the 2005 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee cut most of his early sides, and he sounds right at home. Along the way, Sledge — whose husky tenor retains the character of a muted trumpet — puts his claim on Steve Earle's hillbilly lament "My Old Friend the Blues," the unreleased Bee Gees ballad "A Lonely Violin" and Gregg Sutton and John Herron's perfect Stax/Volt knockoff "24-7-365." Throughout this easy-grooving record, Sledge seems to expend no more energy than it takes to keep a porch swing rocking.
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