Aaron West – 504 Soul
8 Songs/26:43 Running Time
Back in December of 2014, top Australian Soul/Blues vocalist and guitarist Aaron West ventured to New Orleans and recorded and album with a dream team, cream of the crop, Crescent City rhythm section. By April of 2016 504 Soul was the most played Blues album on Australian radio.
At the original session West, of course played guitar and sang lead. Joe Ashlar was on piano and Wurlitzer and has been living in New Orleans since 2007. Bassist and backing vocalist Cornell Williams is a New Orleans native who also had a recurring part on the TV series Treme. Derwin “Big D” Perkins, another certificated N’awlins product, plays guitar on tracks 4 & 8 and also contributes backing vocals. Another veteran Crescent City legend, Jeffrey “Jellybean” Alexander mans the drum station.
All in all, there are ten musicians on this production, with horns, backing vocals and extra keyboards parts being overdubbed in Australia when West returned from the U.S.
New Jersey born and bred Jeff Reid is on alto sax. Mononymous trumpeter Diggler hails from Brisbane, Australia. New Zealand vocalist Tommy Sowers does backing and co-lead vocals on the project. An Australian fellow by the name of John Whyte plays Hammond C3, clavinet and imitation Wurlitzer on tracks 4 & 5. On Hohner D6 is Wil Sargisson, born in New Zealand, residing currently in Australia.
Shades of Soul and R&B pulsate throughout this production. Aaron West’s gritty vocals are comfortable and true to the sonic vibe that the band is laying down. He also wrote all songs except for track #5
Track #4 “Just The Most” is a funky fun excursion that blends the ambient lead vocals of West and Sowers against the deep funk instrumentation. Different keyboard looks, draggy backbeat horns punctuated by a hard hitting Diggler trumpet and a tightly wound “Big D” guitar solo kill it.
“Such A Shame”, track #5 builds up to a bustling pace on a second line drum pattern and stays there for the duration of this 2:24 track. Leaves you hankerin’ for more.
Track #7 is perhaps the blusiest of the session. Here, Aaron West displays his guitar chops and they do not disappoint.
Top instrumental tracks include #5, “The Balcony”, co-written by Aaron West, “Jellybean Alexander, Cornell Williams and Joe Ashlar. It conjures up Crescent City moon over Cali auditory sensibilities of the Meters twined with the Tower of Power horn section – #8, “Rollin’ With D”, is obviously a nod to the tasty, heralded licks of “Big D” Perkins. It is a compact, swinging tune in the mold of say Bill Doggett’s “Honky Tonk, Pt. II
For contrast, slow jam, track #5 beckons all you grinders to the dance floor. All in all this is a great album.
Mr. West’s vocal phrasing is an interesting case study. It seems that on words that begin with sh, he sometimes leaves the h out. So shame becomes same, she becomes see and shake becomes sake. Could be the start of a whole new transcontinental twang!