Robbin Kapsalis & Vintage #18 – Soul Shaker | Album Review

Robbin Kapsalis & Vintage #18 – Soul Shaker

11 tracks/43 min

Vintage #18 was born in the Washington DC area between open mic sessions and jams. This is Robbin Kapsalis’ first and only band. She’s been at it since 2013 and she and the band have a great sound and good synergy.

Born in Chicago and raised in Atlanta, Robbin and company strive to created a sound rooted in Motown and Stax; sassy but not overdone, blending influences ranging from Sharon Jones and Koko Taylor and Aretha Franklin. She raised a family before embarking on her musical career and she’s doing a fine job with her life’s dream of music!

The band behind lead vocalist Kapsalis is Bill Holter on guitar, Mark Chandler on bass, Alex Culdell on drums and percussion, Ron Holloway on sax for four tracks, and Thomas Williams and Vince McCool each on trumpet for different pairs of songs as part of the horn section with Holloway The main part of the show is Robbin Kapsalis, but this band is excellent in her support and all do a fine job with this effort.

The album opens with a great groove on the cut “Shake It Baby,” with Kapsalis showcasing her powerful alto voice and the band doing a fine job backing her on this Buddy Guy tune. A strong guitar solo and a slick horn arrangement make this one even better. It’s a great start! “Lost Souls” is a nice original with Robbin singing at a more up tempo pace as she states she doesn’t want to , “Lose her soul.”  Another well done guitar solo and more fine  support make this one shine, too. Another original is next, “Boog A Loo.” Kapsalis asks her man in no uncertain terms to show her how to boog a loo. Sexy, provocative and fun, there is a cool sax solo here and then later another good, stinging  guitar solo to enjoy.

Deb Ryder’s “Living Large” follows, a slow and more thoughtful piece. The guitar solo here is poignant and well done again and Kapsalis sings with restraint. “You Don’t Deserve Me” is another original with midtempo pacing as Robbin tells her man what the title states– she’s done with him. The bridge mid-song allows Kapsalis to tell her ex what she thinks and serves as an intro to another nice guitar solo. Up next is “Jukin’”, where Kapsalis sings a swinging number about the juke joint back in the hood.  She sings in a sultry manner with emotion and the band goes through the paces behind her. Holter once again offers up a very well done solo.

“From The Heart Of The One” follows, a ballad with Kapsalis fully restrained but still emotive in this simpler song. This one is all about her and her excellent delivery; very cool stuff! “Silver Spoon” is next, another original of straight up blues with a driving beat and two exciting guitar solos. The classic “Fever” gets covered with Robbin’s own take on the song. She goes full sexy and sultry here as she lays it all out for the listener. Holter solos with  slow and interesting style as the bass lays out a slick backing groove both times. Lil Ed Williams’ “ The Cannonball” is up next and Kapsalis blasts off just like one in this rocking good time of a song. Guitars wail and Robbin offers up an equally powerful performance. The album concludes with an extended version of “You Don’t Deserve Me.” More guitar, more cool vocals and more good music as Kapsalis delivers a final cut with guts and gusto.

This set of tunes offers the listener a great listen, mixing well done covers with some fin e original tunes.  The horn arrangements are well done, the guitar work is sold and not overdone, and the backline is very strong. I enjoyed this album a lot and I think blues fans looking for a great vocalist backed by a great band will , too!

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