Royal Southern Brotherhood – heartsoulblood | Album Review

royalsouthernbrotherhoodcdRoyal Southern Brotherhood – heartsoulblood

Ruf Records

12 tracks

Royal Southern Brotherhood’s 2014 release is a big production of a big band with an even bigger sound. A modern day “Supergroup,” featuring the likes of three stars (Cyril Neville, Devon Allman and Mike Zito) along with Yonrico Scott on drums and Charlie Wooton on bass, the band is an amalgamation of rock, blues, Cajun and other styles of music.  Having just seen the band, some of the stars are being replaced by new talent (Mike Zito was first to go, being replaced by guitar slinger Bart Walker and then Devon Allman being replaced by second-generation guitar prodigy Tyrone Vaughn), this album is a little different mix than today’s sound, but the band carries on a a brotherhood of Southern rock music royalty.

The CD opens with the jointly penned and led “World Blues.” It begins with a traditional blues groove and builds to alow each of the three front men to do their thing with a very rock overtone to the blues element.  “Rock and Roll” is a homage to it’s roots, rocking and rolling like an ole Bachman Turner Overdrive cut as Neville testifies in this track that he wrote. Devon Allman’s “Groove On” begins with an intro that reminded me of Electric Light Orchestra and then gets into a rock samba of sorts where he fronts the band in a song he co-wrote with other band members.   It flows well and is a nice cut.  The ELO-like stuff is used to bridge between chorus and verses with a neat effect.  Neville and the band wrote “Here It Is,” is a funky piece with a deep groove.  Very soulful and funk laden.  ”Callous” follows,   lyrics by Neville and music by Zito.  Is a dark rock song with some bluesy influences, talking about the callous left on one’s soul by life’s events.  “Ritual” is a Zito song and he delivers a great performance on vocals and guitar.  Mixing blues, rock and a little funkiness, the song talks of some masochistic stuff and packs a big musical punch!

“Shoulda Known Better “ is an Allman blues ballad with Devon in the lead on vocals and some nice acoustic guitar. Next up is “Let’s Ride,” written by Neville and brother Omar; it’s a heavy New Orleans tune with big bass and Cyril growling out the lead vocals and singing about giving his girl the ride of her life.  Another Allman tune follows; “Trapped” features music by the band and Devon’s lyrics.  Allman sings of a relationship he’s trapped in.  It’s a nice, slower rocker with a blues overtone.  “She’s My Lady”  features Neville lyrics being delivered by him in a soulful manner.  This one’s more of a softer R&B /soul cut and it has a nice Motown retro feel to it.  Zito’s “Takes A Village” enumerates the traditional theme that it takes a village to raise a child.  Zito also shows his softer side in this emotional tune.  The final cut is “Love and Peace” featuring Cyril’s lyrics and a big, driving beat.  Neville and other members join in on a John Lennon-esque song that sings of what the title says.  Mixing funk and rock, the song closes out the album sweetly.

This is a good album. With the level of star power here, the singing and playing are not overdone and the sols are even somewhat restrained.  I really never have thought of these guys as a blues band, but they are a darn good band despite that.  I prefer this album that they wrote themselves to some of the prior studio stuff they did that was written for them  They are in synch and work well together.  A well done production by Jim Gaines and David Z here, too.  I enjoyed the CD!

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