Eli “Paperboy” Reed didn’t set out to become a soul singer. Instead, soul found him when he explored his father’s record collection as a young boy. After teaching himself guitar, piano and harmonica in his Massachusetts hometown, he moved to Mississippi, where he earned his nickname from local musicians who recognized him by the newsboy hat he wore to almost every gig.
Reed’s new album, Come and Get It, puts a modern twist on classic soul recordings from the 1960s and early 1970s while earning him comparisons to Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett and Sam Cooke. He and the True Loves open for Guster on Oct. 15 at Overture Center.
How did you get interested in soul singing?
This sort of music has been part of my life since before I can remember. I was interested in other types of music as well, especially blues, country and gospel, which all inform what I do now. But it was initially just the stuff my dad introduced me to. From there, I went in my own direction.
Were you always a good singer?
As a kid, I didn’t even think about being a singer. And later, even though I played guitar, I never really considered myself a guitar player. I just liked music and did what I could to do the songs I like.
I know you’re into 1960s and 1970s soul. Do you ever wish you lived back then?
I’m a child of the culture I was raised in, and I definitely wouldn’t be able to create the art I do if I lived in a different era. Cultural hindsight lets us understand and internalize and reinterpret the things that have come before us. And the availability of music is so much greater in 2010 than in 1970.
What surprised you most about Come and Get It when you heard the final version?
I was really happy how everything popped and how it stood up to the other records I love. Plus, it sounds like me, which is what’s really important.