It’s a credit to Solomon Burke’s incomparable interpretive skill and to his choice of collaborators that Nothing’s Impossible, a return to the rock-influenced Southern soul that has long been his trademark, never reads as a safe effort or an exercise in easy nostalgia. The late Willie Mitchell, the man behind the curtain for many of Al Green’s finest recordings, serves as the primary producer, arranger, and co-writer for much of the material here, and his gifts for lived-in, muscular soul arrangements are perfectly matched to Burke’s powerful, soul-stirring baritone. As his final production job, Impossible ensures that Mitchell ended his rich career with one of his finest works.
Mitchell understood that one of the keys to a great Burke record is not to let the “King of Rock and Soul” run roughshod over the proceedings, and he ensures that the grittiness and the spaciousness of the vintage R&B arrangements on “Everything About You” and “Say You Love Me Too” give Burke specific contexts in which to work. From the mellow groove of “New Company” to the inspirational theme of the title track, the production style complements the songs. It’s a tasteful, restrained record, but Mitchell provides enough texture to keep the sonic palette interesting and gives Burke room to do what he does best.
A vocalist of unparalleled intuition and depth, Burke is able to mine genuine emotion from even the most pedestrian of material. On Impossible, he has to do that a bit too often. The platitudes of the title track are pat and somewhat condescending, while “It Must Be Love” gets mired in love-song clichés. In some sort of minor miracle, Burke even brings life to a cover of Anne Murray’s “You Needed Me.” It’s impressive, if not exactly surprising, that he elevates some middling songs through sheer conviction and the awesome power of his voice. When the songs are worthy of Burke’s skill, as on the melancholy “Dreams” and “The Error of My Ways,” the album really soars.