Just a month after picking up its first Blues Music Award for the DVD portion of its live Songs from the Road set, Royal Southern Brotherhood is back with its second studio release from Ruf Records, a little something called heartsoulblood that sees the band continuing to gel nicely.
Made up of Cyril Neville (percussion and vocals), Mike Zito (guitar and vocals), and Devon Allman (guitar and vocals), along with a rhythm section of Yonrico Scott (drums) and Charlie Wooton (bass), the band picks up pretty much right where it left off on its eponymous debut, providing plenty more infectious grooves, superb guitar riffs, and tight harmony vocals, from the opening “World Blues” that has Zito, Neville, and Allman taking turns on lead vocals amidst some strong blues-rock grooves and a chorus of “these world blues, keep running through my veins” to the swaying, island-tinged closer “Love and Peace”.
In between of course is another delightful and diverse set of tracks, with the Brotherhood demonstrating an even tighter group sound than on its debut, working its way through songs that include the breezy “Rock and Roll”, where Neville delivers such lyrics as “rock and roll is the child of rhythm and blues, make you shake from your head baby down to your shoes” and “girl, shake what your mama gave ya'”; the funky, percussion-filled “Here It Is”; the tough, creeping “Callous”; and a gritty, in-your-face “Ritual” that pairs some distorted vocals from Zito with dark-magic lyrics.
That’s balanced by such softer numbers as the smooth-flowing “Groove On” (the “my heart, my soul, and my blood” refrain of which serves as the source for the album’s title) with its Steely Dan-like intro and reflective “Shoulda Known”, both featuring soulful vocals from Allman; Neville’s R&B/reggae-styled “She’s My Lady”; and the slow, folk-sounding “Takes a Village”, this time with Zito handling vocals.
Recorded at the Dockside Studio in Louisiana and produced by Jim Gaines, heartsoulblood is another fine offering from one of blues-rock’s fastest-rising – and certainly most talented – acts.