To say that Robert Finley had accumulated more experience than most artists before releasing his debut album in 2016 is a massive understatement. The Louisiana native began playing guitar at age 11, and by age 63, when Age Don’t Mean a Thing found listeners, he had been performing off and on as a blues and soul musician for dozens of years in between serving in the army and a lengthy career as a carpenter, a craft his failing eyesight forced him to give up in 2015. Busking on street corners and outside venues helped him nab gigs as an opening act and ultimately led him to the recording studio—and broader audiences.
“I’m born to tell my story and where I come from,” says Finley, whose new album, Sharecropper’s Son, is out in May. “Even though the cotton fields weren’t a pleasant place to be, it was real and a part of my life. I came from the cotton fields to Beverly Hills, and I think it’s a story worth telling.” The album’s title track does just that, offering a reflection on Finley’s childhood experiences in the Jim Crow South. “Ain’t no time for education / Too much corn in the field,” he sings. “Ain’t no time to go to school, y’all / We got too much work around here.”
“My dad was proud,” Finley says of his family history and inspiration for the song, which G&G is proud to premiere below, along with an accompanying video. “He didn’t want to be seen in the welfare line, so he worked hard in the field and did things his way.”
“Sharecropper’s Son” is one of several standout numbers from the album, which was produced by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys and will be released via his Easy Eye Sound label. Finley’s gripping vocals and lilting piano on “Souled Out On You” feel both familiar and forward-thinking, while the funky guitar licks and forlorn poetry of “Country Boy” show off the now 67-year-old’s lifelong devotion to soul and blues music.
Check out the title track below. Sharecropper’s Son is out May 21 and available for pre-order now.