When Ural Thomas agreed to do a show of old, largely forgotten soul songs in 2013, he figured it was a one off. “We kind of got together to do a one-night stand,” says Thomas, “a nostalgia of old music that the people had basically forgotten.”
Thomas was a Northwest soul singer in the 1960s and early 1970s. He’s spent most of his life in Portland but during Seattle’s soul and funk moment, he lived here for a few years, playing in the Central District scene and cutting some singles like “Deep Soul Pt. 1” with Ron Buford. But after years of touring and playing professionally, Thomas dropped out of the music business and returned to Portland. He kept playing music for himself—even recording in a studio he built in his house—but didn't release it.
That “one-night stand” in 2013, though, turned into his touring band of nearly six years, the Pain, and now, over 40 years into his career Thomas has released his first LP of all original material, The Right Time—which was released today.
Perhaps because of the long interim, The Right Time sounds like a dispatch from soul’s golden era. Yes, Thomas can sing with the gentleness of years (he’s 78), but the record also has a vigor and immediacy rare for seasoned musicians. It’s the sort of funky, yelping, grooving record younger throwback musicians can’t quite achieve. “Slow Down” one track admonishes, but it seems Thomas hardly has.
Ural Thomas and the Pain
Oct 10, Nectar Lounge, $10