Al Green cleared his throat with I Can't Stop, his smooth, formulaic return to secular form in 2003. With Everything's OK, the Memphis minister is in full voice: His second disc with longtime producer Willie Mitchell finds the two at the top of their game. Largely written by Green, Everything's OK is a full-bodied, swank soul album replete with strings, the Royal Horns, unusually daring arrangements and, when the song calls for it, a solo -- Bobby Rush's harmonica on Green's "I Can Make Music" is sharp, and Lannie McMillan's David Sanborn-styled sax makes "Be My Baby" even more persuasive.
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The songs move, sparked by Mitchell's meticulous, transparent settings. Most are mid-tempo, Green's most comfortable groove. Aspiration and affection fuel the album, an affirmation of the Green-Mitchell partnership that made Green one of the premier soul singers of the '70s. As passionate as his earlier work, it showcases a newly comfortable Green, eager to sing sweet and raw with equal authority. Even the single cover, "You Are So Beautiful," a hit for more mannered singer Joe Cocker, rings with credibility and imagination.