Jimmy Barnes, Soul Deep

In the context of Cold Chisel a solo soul covers album makes some demented sense. Not that Joe Tex lead-in "I Gotcha" has aged particularly well, but it serves Barnes' bad-boy aesthetic, and he's got sufficient range and groan to match the male vocalists he apes ("(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher" and his duet with John Farnham in "When Something Is Wrong with My Baby" in particular). His girl covers are less accomplished: the Supremes retread "Reflections" is a little by-the-numbers and "River Deep Mountain High" is just leaden. Similarly, "Here I Am (Come and Take Me)" doesn't have enough runway to take off. But even if he doesn't really do anything new with these songs, what's here is cromulent and competent, though any added artistic value seems slight. (Content: mild adult themes in "I Gotcha.")