Royal Southern Brotherhood review…July 1, 2015….

ROYAL SOUTHERN BROTHERHOOD

DON’T LOOK BACK–THE MUSCLE SHOALS SESSIONS

RUF RECORDS 1215

I WANNA BE FREE–REACH MY GOAL–DON’T LOOK BACK–HIT ME ONCE–THE BIG GREASY–HARD BLUES–BETTER HALF–PENZI–IT’S TIME FOR LOVE–BAYOU BABY–POOR BOY–THEY DON’T MAKE ‘EM LIKE YOU ANY MORE–COME HELL OR HIGH WATER–ANCHOR ME

The Royal Southern Brotherhood have undergone some notable changes since their last album.  Cyril Neville is still at the heart of the group, but gone are guitarists Devon Allman and Mike Zito, each pursuing their own solo careers.  Fear not, tho, blues fans–Nashville vocalist and guitarist Bart Walker now holds down one vacated spot, while the other belongs to Tyrone Vaughan, Jimmie’s son and SRV’s nephew.  They have just released fourteen original tracks laid down at the legendary FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, AL, entitled “Don’t Look Back.”

The positive messages of love and hope ring loud and proud throughout this set.  Along with the three major players, the rhythm section of Yonrico Scott and Charlie Wooton keep things groovin’ along nicely.  Bart Walker, with a voice trained in opera and classical music, kicks things off with the grungy, powerful crunch of “I Wanna Be Free from the trials and struggles” of everyday life, as each man takes a verse.  Cyril reminds us in “Reach My Goal,” to “keep your eye on the donut, and not just the hole,” while Bart’s country-blues banjo leads the way on the title cut, as he “knows there is a better way—I just ain’t found it yet!”  A message to show “every child is a love child,” entitled “Penzi,” follows a near-tribal rhythm pattern over Bart’s mandolin.  “Hit Me Once” and “Bayou Baby” are good-time shots of funky soul, and Cyril pays a sweet tribute to “my wife, my lover, and my best friend” in “Better Half,” and closes the set by asking her to “Anchor Me with your precious love for all eternity,” done with Cyril backed only by acoustic guitar.

Given the direction our society has been headed lately, a set of positive vibes to give hope for a better future is a great salve.  The Royal Southern Brotherhood, with “Don’t Look Back,” show us that love, indeed, is the answer!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

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