The Devonns’ Self-Titled Debut Will Take Listeners Back To The Golden Age of Soul, Funk, R&B

Courtesy: Record Kicks

Neo-soul/funk outfit The Devonns will release its self-titled debut album Friday.  The 10-song record has already spawned three singles – ‘Tell Me,’ ‘Blood Red Blues (How Long?)’ and ‘Green Light’ – ahead of its forthcoming release.  All three songs are engaging and enjoyable in their own right, especially ‘Blood Red Blues (How Long?),’ the latest of the record’s singles.  It will be discussed shortly.  For all that it and the other singles do for the record’s presentation, they are only a portion of what makes the record stand out.  ‘So In Love With You’ does its own part to make this record memorable.  It will certainly become a fan favorite, and will be discussed a little later.  ‘More,’ which comes just past the record’s midpoint, is another notable addition to the record.  When it is considered along with the rest of the album’s entries, the whole of the album’s content makes it a record with a far-reaching appeal

The Devonns’ self-titled debut album is a strong first impression from the neo-soul/funk quartet.  That is proven from beginning to end in its musical and lyrical content.  The group’s latest single, ‘Blood Red Blues (How Long?)’ is just one of the songs featured in the album that supports the noted statements.  The song’s musical arrangement, with its subtle guitar line, steady time keeping and vocals from front man Mathew Ajjarapu, immediately lends itself to comparisons to Marvin Gaye’s timeless song ‘What’s Going On.’  That is no coincidence, as Ajjarapu noted in a statement on the group’s official Facebook page, that he had been listening to that song as well as renditions of ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ from Sam Cooke and Aretha Franklin when the song was crafted.  Hints of both songs are evident, and welcome.  Such connections leave little doubt as to why this song was chosen as one of the album’s singles.  The song’s lyrical content, which was written prior to the recent events in Minnesota, but plays right into what has happened and is happening.

Ajjarapu noted in his statement about the song that he wrote it “about my frustration with the lack of progress America has made on issues, such as the Trayvon Martin case or the Sandy Hook massacre.  It’s like everyone here is mad about those things, but no one actually has any power to change them…I remember trying to imagine if Sam Cooke or Marvin Gaye could somehow come back and see how things had changed in 30 or 40 years, how might they feel?”  Again, while the song might not have been connected to what has recently happened in Minnesota, such comments make it just as easily connected to the ongoing events.  Ajjarapu sings in the song’s lead verse, “Blood dried on the parking lot/Cop said another boy’s been shot/mama worked for everything she’s got/Then the bank came along/Got everything she got/What’s going wrong/What’s going wrong?”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Blood dried on the parking lot/TV says another school’s been shot/Now we all know what we got to say/But everybody’s scare of the NRA/Oh, what’s going on/Hey, what’s going wrong/How long, how long, how long, how long/Must we wait for the time of justice to be done.”  As the song progresses, he also asks, “How long must we wait for the time for us to live as one?”  The rest of the song’s lyrical content follows in much the same fashion.  He even goes so far as to sing in the song’s closing verse, “Doesn’t matter how hard we fought/None of this is ever gonna stop…killin’ us from the inside out/What’s going wrong?”  Once more, this is one of those songs that will connect with listeners in any era.  Its lyrical content was constructed at a certain period in time, but could just as easily have been written in response to so much social dischord that has plagued this nation.  Keeping that in mind, the song, both musically and lyrically, proves itself a strong addition to The Devonns and just one key example of what makes this record such an influential start for the group.  ‘So In Love With You’ is another notable addition to the record.

‘So In Love With You’ leaves zero doubt as to its subject matter.  It, like so much of the material featured in this record, is a work that centers on the topic of romantic love.  It stands out in part because of its musical arrangement.  This song’s arrangement is a smooth, old school work that throws back to the days when acts, such as The O’Jays, The Temptations and The Isley Brothers were at their peak popularity.  It is one of those works that will do well at any formal (or informal) event involving dance.  It will give couples every bit of motivation to embrace and get lost in the moment (and each other).

The lyrics that accompany the song’s musical arrangement are just as smooth as said content.  Ajjarapu sings in the song’s lead verse, “I don’t know what you have got/Now baby/Just what keeps you on my mind/I just know that you can do the things you do to me/Each and every single time/And I’m so in love with you, baby/Said I’m so in love with you/You just save me my love, girl/And I’ll be right there by your side/You don’t have to be so particular with me, honey/I’m the one who’s begging this time/And I’m so in love with you, baby/I’m so in love with you.”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “Tell me/Can you understand me, girl/I don’t think you do sometimes/I can tell that you’re the who’s gonna be with me through endless time/And I’m so in love with you, baby/Said I’m so in love with you.”  The song continues with Ajjarapu repeatedly singing, “I’m so in love with you” as strings play in the background alongside the drums and keyboards, eventually fading out.  Once again, the lyrics leave zero questions as to the song’s theme, which adds to its ability to connect with listeners.  That connection will ensure listeners’ engagement and entertainment, all while making this neo-R&B work a song that could help break the group into the mainstream.  It’s just one more example of what makes The Devonns a standout work.  ‘More’ does its own share to show why The Devonns’ self-titled debut is worth hearing, too.

‘More’ presents an arrangement whose guitar, drums and strings boats a distinct old school disco-infused sound that audiences will enjoy just as much as any of the album’s other works.  The addition of the horns to the whole enriches the song even more.  The song’s upbeat tempo adds to the engagement in the song because that and the arrangement in whole is such a stark contrast to the song’s lyrical content, which is apparently about a breakup.

The note of the breakup is inferred as Ajjarapu sings in the song’s lead verse, “You smile at me/Like you don’t love me anymore/It’s not like your smile before/Is loving me such a chore/I don’t want/I don’t wanna be draggin’ you down/So you should let me know right now/If you need to be getting out/If I told you once/I told you a thousand times/I don’t need your love/If you can’t be kind/If you think this love/Is something worth fighting for/Then you’ve got to give me more/There was a time I loved you/Has our love died, too/We have to try to save this/Before we take our last…”  He continues in the song’s second verse, “You go out/At all hours, it seems/Hwo could you ever do this to me/Don’t you think that I’ve got needs/I don’t think you recall/Just how this really is/So let me spell it out like this/Pretty soon I’ll be done with this s***.”  From here, Ajjarapu returns to the song’s chorus twice more asking about what happened to the couple’s relationship.  Again, this is interesting, considering that most R&B songs that center on breakups tend to be rather melancholy.  So to have this juxtaposition of familiar lyrical content to such upbeat musical content makes for its own share of engagement and entertainment.  It is certain to generate discussion among listeners for this very reason.  That’s a good thing for The Devonns, too.  It shows the group obviously paid attention to such a minute, yet important detail.  Considered along with the overall content of the other noted songs and the rest of the album’s songs, the whole of The Devonns proves itself a work that will appeal to a wide range of listeners.

The Devonns’ self-titled debut album, set for release Friday through Record Kicks, is an impressive first offering from the group.  That is due to the album’s musical and lyrical content.  While much of the content focuses (and quite well at that) on personal relationships, there is at least one social commentary featured in the album.  The album’s musical arrangements will take listeners back in time as if it is another time capsule unearthed and filled with old school funk, soul and R&B records.  It is a work that many listeners will find appealing.  That wide appeal, thanks to the engaging and entertaining content makes the record one of the year’s best new independent albums and overall albums.  More information on The Devonns is available along with all of The Devonns’ latest news and more at:

 

 

 

Website: http://thedevonns.bandcamp.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thedevonns

 

 

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Beck’s New Live CD Is A Welcome Addition To Any Fan’s Collection

Courtesy:  ATCO/Rhino Records

Courtesy: ATCO/Rhino Records

Later this month, veteran guitarist Jeff Beck will release a brand new live recording titled Live+. The recording, which will be released only on CD, will be released on Tuesday, May 19th. The disc is a great new collection of live performances for audiences of all ages. The main reason for this is the list of songs that make up the disc’s sixteen total tracks. The disc’s body is composed of fourteen live tracks and two brand new studio tracks. The live tracks include both Beck’s own originals and some cover tunes that audiences of all ages will recognize and enjoy. The work of those charged with handling the record’s sequencing is just as much worth noting. The songs featured on this record come from a number of shows held during Back’s 2014 tour with ZZ Top. Despite this, they weren’t just tossed around haphazardly. Rather they were placed in a specific order that guarantees audiences will remain just as engaged as if they all came from one single performance. Having noted this, there is one more positive that can be noted of Live+. That last positive is the disc’s overall audio mix. Every little nuance of the performances is captured thanks to the work of those responsible for handling both the original concert audio and those charged with balancing said levels in the disc’s “post-production.” Taking into consideration all three elements noted here, Live+ proves itself to be another good addition to any Jeff Beck fan’s music library even if it is available only via CD and digital download.

Live+ is a good addition to any Jeff Beck fan’s music library. This is the case even with the collection of live performances being available mainly via CD and digital download. The reason that it proves itself worth the addition is the list of songs that makes up the body of the record. The record is composed of sixteen tracks. Fourteen of those tracks are live tracks and two are brand new studio recordings from Beck. In listening to the fourteen live performances that make up most of this record, audiences will appreciate that it includes both familiar originals from Beck and some familiar songs from other artists, too. The covers include Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Little Wing,’ ‘Sam Cooke’s ‘A Change is Gonna Come,’ ‘Mahavishnu Orchestra’s ‘You Know You Know,’ and a pair of tunes from The Beatles in the form of ‘A Day in The Life’ and ‘Hammerhead.’ There’s even an interesting take on the traditional song ‘Danny Boy.’ and an impressive take on Stevie Wonder’s hit song ‘Superstition.’ The original songs from Beck that were included across the disc include: ‘Morning Dew,’ ‘Big Block,’ ‘Why Give It Away,’ and ‘Loaded’ are just some of Beck’s originals featured throughout the record. Some might ask what this is important to the whole of the record. It is important in that it shows Beck’s versatility. It shows that along with handling his own works with just as much ease as ever, he has a certain respect for music and musicians across the musical universe. Those that are familiar with all of the songs featured here will second that sentiment while those that might be new to both Beck’s originals and the covers he handles will agree just as much as they discover both for the first time ever.

The songs that are included across the body of Live+ are in themselves key to the record’s enjoyment. That is because they put on display Beck’s versatility as a musician as well as his respect for other musicians and musical acts across the musical universe. On a related note, the work of those charged with handling the sequencing of the songs are to be commended. Their work makes the overall listening experience through each song all the more enjoyable. As audiences will note, from song to song, those charged with handling the record’s sequencing never stick to just one style of song. The more energetic, up-tempo songs are complemented quite well by their slower, more reserved counterparts from beginning to end. As inconsequential as this may seem, it is extremely important. It is especially important in the realm of live recordings. Musical acts assemble set lists that will keep their audiences fully engaged at the actual concerts that they hold. This compilation of live performances was set up in much the same fashion even being compiled from a number of live sets. It is a tribute to their efforts and attention to such an important detail along with that of Beck himself. It’s one more reason audiences will agree that Live+ is another good addition to any Jeff Beck fan’s personal music library.

Both the set list that makes up the body of Live+ and the work of those charged with handling the sequencing of said songs are important to the whole of the recording in their own right. Neither would be of any consequence without the work of those charged with handling the performances’ audio. This includes both those that handled the audio at Beck’s performances with ZZ Top last year and those that handled the audio levels in “post-production.” That is those that handled the audio levels in preparation for the recording’s release. It’s thanks to their work that singer Jimmy Hall blows audiences away with his powerhouse vocals. It is thanks to them that Becks work shines through just as much both during his time in the limelight and as a member of the musical collective on stage. Even more impressive is that throughout the course of the record’s live performances, every part is balanced with the utmost expertise. This includes not only Hall’s vocal talents and Beck’s talents on guitar, but the talents of their band mates–Jonathan Joseph (drums), Rhonda Smith (bass), and Nicholas Meier (guitar)–too. No one part overpowers the other at any point throughout the performances. The end result is a collection of performances that once more proves itself another worthy addition to any Jeff Beck fan’s personal music library.

Jeff Beck’s new live recording Live+ shows plenty of reason for his fans to add this recording to their personal music libraries when it is released this month. The mix of original songs and covers shows both Beck and his band mates as quite the versatile group of musicians. It shows them as musicians that are not only greatly talented but that have great respect for other equally renowned acts. The work of those charged with sequencing the various performances is just as noteworthy. That is because the mood of the recording’s live songs doesn’t stick to just one style. The more energetic, up-tempo pieces are expertly complemented by more laid back, reserved pieces from beginning to end. The end result of that expert balance is a collection of performances that will keep audiences fully engaged from the collection’s first performance to its fourteenth. The work of those charged with handling the performances’ audio both in their live setting and in post production have made Live+ enjoyable, too. It is thanks to the work of those individuals that the performances sound so good from beginning to end. That element taken into consideration with the compilation’s set list and the work of those that assembled said set list proves Live+ in the long run to be a live recording that every Jeff Beck fan will want to add to their personal music library. That isn’t to ignore the record’s two new studio recordings, either. They add even more enjoyment to the record. Having noted all of this it can be said with certainty that Jeff Beck’s upcoming live CD Live+ deserves a spot on any critic’s list of the year’s top new live CDs.

Jeff Beck is currently wrapping up a handful of makeup dates with ZZ Top that were previously postponed last year. The dates in question were postponed due to an injury sustained by ZZ Top bassist Dusty Hill. The last of those dates is tomorrow, May 10th. After that date, Beck will embark on a nine-date solo tour that kicks off next Tuesday, May 12th in Louisville, KY. That schedule is listed below.

Jeff Beck Newly Added Solo Dates – on sale dates noted:

May 12 The Kentucky Center –Whitney Hall Louisville, KY*

May 14 Michigan Theater Ann Arbor, MI ***

May 15 Hard Rock Live Northfield, OH*

May 16 PNC Pavilion at Riverbend Music Center Cincinnati, OH

May 17 Ryman Auditorium Nashville, TN

May 19 Fox Theater St. Louis, MO *

May 21 Chicago Theatre Chicago, IL **

May 22 Riverside Theatre Milwaukee, WI*

May 23 State Theater Minneapolis, MN*

*on sale April 10

** on sale April 11

*** on sale April 17

Live+ will be available in stores and online Tuesday, May 19th. It will retail for MSRP of $18.98 in physical form. More information on this recording, Beck’s upcoming re-issue of Live at Ronnie Scott’s and any of his other recordings is available online now along with all of the latest updates on his tour schedule and other news at:

Website: http://www.jeffbeck.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/jeffbeck

Twitter: http://twitter.com/jeffbeckmusic

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Sam Cooke To Be Honored At Annual SHOF Ceremony

Courtesy:  ABKCO Records/merlis for hire

Courtesy: ABKCO Records/merlis for hire

Sam Cooke is set to receive a very special honor.  His song, ‘A Change is Gonna Come’ is one of a small handful of songs to receive the “2013 Songwriters Hall of Fame Towering Song Award.”  The presentation will be made at the 44th annual Induction and Awards Dinner on Thursday, June 13th.  The dinner and awards ceremony will be held at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in New York City. 

The song—which was originally written by Cooke in 1963 and recorded in 1964—was referenced as recently as the 2008 election by President Barack Obama after winning the election that year.  It was also used as an anthem during the Civil Rights movement.  Since its original release, it has been covered over five hundred times by various artists from the likes of: Aretha Franklin, Al Green, and Otis Redding to more modern artists such as: R. Kelly, Gavin DeGraw, and Seal just to name a few.  These are just a few of the song’s accolades.  It has even been deemed by National Public Radio (NPR) as “the most important ever recorded” and has been selected by the Library of Congress for inclusion into its National Recording Registry.  Cooke himself was posthumously inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1987.       

‘A Change is Gonna Come’ will be inducted into the SHOF along with works from Tony Hatch, Mick Jones & Lou Gramm, Holly Knight, JD Souther, and Steven Tyler & Joe Perry.  A full list of inductees and bios is available online via the SHOF’s virtual museum at http://songwritershalloffame.org.

Tickets for the induction ceremony are available now.  They start at $1,000 each.  They are available through Buckley Hall Events by phone at 212-573-6933.

To keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews, go online to http://www.facebook.com/philspicks and “Like” it.  Fans can always keep up with the latest sports and entertainment news and reviews in the Phil’s Picks blog at https://philspicks.wordpress.com.