A gumbo cookin', alligator whuppin' serving of blues – Louisiana style.
Angus Taylor 2009-06-10
For his fourth solo album, youngest Neville Brother Cyril has taken a break from his group Tribe 13 and made a successful return to the blues. But this is no ordinary blues. It's a gumbo cookin', alligator whuppin' serving of blues – Louisiana style.
Using a crew of decorated musicians including guitarist Tab Benoit and Neville family members Ian, Ivan and Art, Brand New Blues seasons the medium's conventional structures with just the right amount of New Orleans funk to avoid over-powering the mix.
A cover of Jimmy Reed's I Found Joy is a 12 bar organ shuffle that turns the notion of the blues as inherently sad music on its head; the title song pairs an old school drum machine with a twin guitar attack; whereas Shake Your Gumbo is a Funkadelic type heavy blues wig out in swing time.
Neville has a longstanding interest in the business side of being a musician (he founded New Orleans Musicians Organised to prevent local players from getting ripped off). This savvy informs Mean Boss Blues, a searing lament on the state of the US economy.
And his well documented love of reggae and outspoken views on the Hurricane Katrina disaster collide for an anguished, eight-minute version of The Wailers' Slave Driver – with an extra verse written in – the album's piece de resistance and final track.
Cyril found fame as the percussionist with older brother Art in the funk group the Meters before joining The Neville Brothers (who continue to play together til this day).
His voice may be rougher and tougher than that of his angel toned sibling Aaron, but against this low key, traditional-instrument-based electric blues backdrop, he still has the power to uplift and move.