Royal Southern Brotherhood review…July 21, 2014…





It’s hard to believe that it has been two years since the release of the self-titled debut for Royal Southern Brotherhood.  We saw ’em at Grimey’s in May 2012, shortly after that set came out, and they have been going non-stop ever since.  In that time, they have released a live CD/DVD, “Songs From The Road,” (also on Ruf Records), and now their highly-anticipated second studio album is here.  “HeartSoulBlood” features twelve original tracks that follow a looser groove than the first one.  Constant touring has allowed all the fellows to write some powerful material, as well as being able to interchange guitarists at will.  Jim Gaines is once again at the producer helm, and he gets the utmost out of the twin guitars of Devon Allman and Mike Zito, with Cyril Neville holding down the funkified vocals and percussion.  Rounding out the crew is Charlie  Wooton on bass and Yonrico Scott on drums.

The material is a cool mix of  blues, soul, funk, and reggae.  There are good-time grooves and some excellent social commentaries.  One of those leads off, as “World Blues” makes it tough to watch the news as there’s trouble at every turn.  It rides a soulful slide riff over a doomsday beat.  Cyril traces the history of “Rock And Roll” from down in New Orleans at Cosimo Matassa’s studio, in an old-school roadhouse rave-up.  “Ritual” has Mike Zito singing over another haunting beat as he  encourages his lover to “not be afraid to do a little night trippin in the daylight.”  “Shoulda Known” is a fine showcase for Devon’s soulful voice, and would be right at home on any of his father’s solo albums from back in the day.  “Takes A Village” is perhaps the set’s most powerful piece, as Cyril reminds us that there are “too many evils in the world,” that our children must be protected from.  The set closes on a positive high, as “Love And Peace will heal the world,” set over a reggae groove, with dueling guitars from Devon and Mike.

We had two favorites, too.  Cyril brings the funk, the whole funk, and nothin’ but the funk on his swagger-filled strutter, “Here It Is.”  And, he recounts a sad tale with a much-too-tragic ending that leaves him with a “Callous on my soul.”

Go ahead and call them a supergroup, but Royal Southern Brotherhood are heedin’ the call to keep blues-rock moving forward.  “HeartSoulBlood” allows all the fellows to shine in playing, writing, and singing, and is a brilliant follow-up to their debut!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society.


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