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Issue 1088

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Review

Royal Southern Brotherhood: âDonât Look Back.â (Ruf Records)

Royal Southern Brotherhood CD Cover pic

9

6.0

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UK release date 19.05.2015

In the three years since US blues-soul supergroup Royal Southern Brotherhod formed, they have released two acclaimed studio albums - 2012âs self-titled debut album, 2014âs "HeartSoulBlood" - and a live CD/DVD.

With the recent departure of Devon Allman and Mike Zito - and the addition of Bart Walker and Tyrone Vaughan - the new line-up went straight into the studio to cut a third album.

There was a special, almost telepathic chemistry between guitarists Devon and Mike in the original line-up. With bassist Charlie Wotton, drummer Yonrico Scott and the wonderful Cyril Neville on vocals and percussion, it was a real dream team.

One of the most exiting live bands I have seen in almost 40 years. So the loss of the two axe men could have screwed with that chemistry big time. Has it? Shit, no. If anything, there is a rawer, more dangerous edge to the band on this new album. Consider it âyear zero.â

Tyrone Vaughan ainât no slouch on guitar. Itâs in his genes; the son of Texas blues star Jimmie Vaughan and nephew of the late and great blues icon Stevie Ray Vaughan.

Bart Walker is a skilful Nashville guitarist, a technical wizard and together, he and bluesman Tyrone have somehow gelled from the off, like theyâve been sparring together for years.

Cyril Neville is part of The Neville dynasty; soulful singer and ace percussionist from groove masters The Meters and The Neville Brothers group. Plus his acclaimed solo career, and many guest spots with the likes of the Stones.

Grammy-winning producer Tom Hambridge and engineer John Gifford III did a sterling job to capture the new lineup at its most natural and incendiary.

Songwriting contributions from all five members, Cyril had a hand in the writing of nine of the 14 songs, including the R&B flavoured âBetter Half,â a tribute to his wife written with his nephew Ivan Neville. Producer Tom Hambridge penned âHard Blues,â and we get two covers from outside writers.

Bart and Tyrone share the lead guitar duties. Cyril, at his soulful best, takes the majority of the lead vocals. Tyrone and Bart get their chance at the mike too and do a very fine job.

Thereâs a feast of horn-soaked funk, nods to New Orleans and plenty of rockinâ, raucous, rock and roll meets the blues. Sizzling soul and all sorts too in this spicy Gumbo. The bandâs music certainly doesnât fit neatly into boxes and categories at all.

Here we have five world class musicians, some of âem with a Royal pedigree, doing what they were born to do and taking us all along for the ride if we wanna go. Climb on boardâ¦â¦â¦â¦.
Words SIMON REDLEY

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