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Issue 1088

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Review

Royal Southern Brotherhood: HeartSoulBlood (Ruf Records)

Royal Southern Brotherhood CD cover pic

8

6.2

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UK release date 16.06.2014

Cyril Neville, Devon Allman, Mike Zito, Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton are Royal Southern Brotherhood.

The so-called Us Supergroup who mix blues, rock, soul and all sorts of ingredients into the Gumbo, serving up a spicy dish with wide appeal.

âWorld Blues,â opens things, with a great groove, built on some fiery slide guitar from Mike Zito. Retro Southern rock blues, with the vocals shared among Mike, Cyril and Devon.

âRock and Roll,â is Stones and Springsteen territory, before the slinky funk of âGroove On,â which is very percussive, putting me in mind of the Atlanta Rhythm Sectionâs âSpooky,â and underlines this bandâs knack of nailing a groove from the off. Digging deep and staying with it. Itâs a very strong song and vocal, with an infectious hook and great guitar break. A lovely weaving of guitars from Mike and Devon.

Yonrico and Charlieâs drums and bass locked together, as on the rest of this album. When I spoke with Cyril Neville recently, he accurately described the pair as the âthunder and lightningâ of this album. Their contribution should not be under estimated. Everything is built upon their solid foundations on every song, even the slower, gentler stuff. They are a formidable force.

âHere It Is,â starts with Charlieâs funky bass line, on a swampy soul feel of a song. Sounding like a soundtrack for a 70s Blaxploitation movie. A lovely vocal, a Meters/Neville Brothers greasy low down groove. Itâs a standout track for me. Sly and the Family Stone-ish too, perhaps. I love the space they leave, avoiding groovus interruptus. The only thing missing is the flute!

âCallous,â is one of those clever songs that sounds like something you have heard before. Itâs a brand new tune set upon another low down groove. Another highlight of this record.

Jim Gaines is a master of âless is moreâ production, allowing the material to breath. A great example of this is the brilliant work he did on the late Clarence âGatemouth,â Brownâs album âStanding My Ground,â which features the very best version of the classic âGot My Mojo Working,â I have ever heard.

This really is a dream team with these five talented musicians and Jim at the helm, engineered by the great David Z.

âRitual,â gives us Texas style blues rock, with some steamy guitar work. âShoulda Known,â is a lovely dollop of slow Southern Country soul blues, a song that grew on me after a few listens. It builds into a heart wrenching lead vocal.

The mid-tempo rocker, âLetâs Ride,â features a soulful vocal from Cyril, with that growl in the back of his throat. â Iâm just a man with a missionâ¦â¦â¦â he tells us. Bloody right you are Cyril, as are all of you famous five. Yonricoâs solid drums hammer out the foundations, thereâs a grungy guitar solo on top of a heavy groove, a lyric that tells us about riding a Harley.

âTrapped,â is an OK mid-tempo rocker. The best of the bunch for my ears is a slight departure, and it is beautiful. âSheâs My Lady,â an out and out retro soul ballad, in Isleys, Chi-Lites, Stylistics, Eddie Holman style. It really is so damn good. A potential summer radio hit, to open them up to a new market whoâd still probably dig the rockier stuff.

RSB are Southern soul boys at heart. The falsetto and harmonies on âSheâs My Lady,â are just lovely - there may well be a few babies conceived to this one!

âTakes A Village,â kicks off with Cyrilâs conga drums, features some howling slide guitar, and is perhaps a tad too sparse and doesnât really get going. The closer, âLove And Peace,â starts with a rocky groove and goes into a kind of Carribbean/reggae-ish type thing. Itâs an instrumental mainly, with ensemble singing in the chorus. I am not sure this is quite strong enough to end this set with.

âHeartSoulBlood,â is an album that has its highs, its red hot moments, but then goes luke warm at times. Itâs not a blues album, itâs not a soul album, itâs not a rock album and itâs not a funk album. But it mixes all of that and more.

This band is ALL about chemistry. It is not five guys trying to be boss. This album is the sound of a band, and not a bunch of top solo artists trying to out shine each other. It also has nowt to do with that silly phrase Supergroup. Other than they are super and they are a group!

Itâs two years since 2012âs self-titled debut album. We have also been given a live album recorded in Germany. They sound like they have been together for years but in fact, only formed in 2011. Their songs are well road tested having toured across more than 20 countries. They will be back here in the summer.

June 20 UK Chichester, Blues On The Farm
June 21 UK Durham, Blues Festival
June 22 UK Cleethorpes, Blues Festival
June 23 UK Clitheroe, The Grand
June 24 UK Cardiff, The Globe
June 25 UK London, O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
July 3 UK St. Ives, Guildhall
July 4 UK Kent, Hop Farm Festival
Sep 7 IRE Monaghan, Harvest Time Blues
Sep 8 UK Edinburgh, Jam House
Words SIMON REDLEY

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