(5 / 5)
Alan Evans has made a name for himself among soul fans as the multi-instrumentalist and co-founder of US band Soulive, and he has just released his superb album “Love & Truth” wearing another hat, “Crushed Velvet & The Velveteers.
Evoking the classic 60s and 70s soul and funk sound of Chicago, Detroit, Memphis and New York, but mixing the retro soul sound with modern day relevance, strong material and great vocals/musicianship, the only “complaint” I have about this record, is the fact it is only eight tracks! More please….
But they make those eight cuts count. An all-star line-up, such as singers Kim Dawson, (Pimps of Joytime / Matador Soul Sounds), Saundra Williams (Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings / Saun & Starr), Lyle Divinsky (The Motet), Yanick (After Funk) and Brother GoodLove (Aztec Sun).
Alan Evans handles guitar, bass and drums with guests such as Darby Wolf and Neal Evans on keys and the horn section from the BT ALC Big Band.
The album opens with the cracking “Really Can’t Get Over You”, a feel-good slice of sunny uptempo soul, with catchy hooks and a singalong chorus, featuring an excellent vocal from Yanik. A shame this is the only track with Yanik among the set. Got to check out more of this cool cat.
Kim Dawson features on three songs: the gorgeous slow burning and emotion-soaked “You Are My Home”, hard-driving closer “Keep On Fighting” where she channels a growling Betty Davis, and Kim is up front on “Good Thang“, a three-minute groove-drenched funk cut, previously released as a single on vinyl and digital. The horns and feel is very much Tower Of Power territory. Good stuff.
“Every Second of the Day” is a lush soul ballad featuring the five star vocal talents of Saundra Williams, backing vocalist for Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and half of soul duo Saun & Starr on Daptone Records.
Brother Goodlove conjures up that Curtis Mayfield vibe on the silky soul ballad “As Far As we Know” (see the video, above), and he sticks around for lead vocals on the Isaac Hayes-ish “We Are Not Alone”. Both cuts would have been a snug fit for soundtracks of those 1970s “Blaxploitation” movies.
“Say Their Names Be The Change” features Lyle Divinsky of The Motet on vocals, and really is a lovely job. Another Mayfield thing about it, and one of the standouts of the set.
“Love & Truth” has zero duff tracks on it. Fact. Leaves you wanting more. Alan Evans certainly keeps good company and knows how to pick the best of the best in singers for his projects. But also how to craft songs that fit the project and those vocal stars like a glove.
This is ‘Grade-A’, old-skool soul/r&b – writ large, baby. Dig it?
By Sally Fox
(2 / 5) ‘OK Zone’
(3 / 5) ‘Decent Zone’
(4 / 5) ‘Super Zone’
(5 / 5) ‘Awesome Zone’