Southern Avenue

Southern Avenue

(Stax Records/Concord Music Group)

 

A quirky, characterful bunch they look on the cover – two sassy ladies and three guys from Prison Break. Nah, just kidding, they do look like a unit..purposeful. Kevin Houston has a lot to do with the realisation of this release – producing, recording and mixing. Executive producer is John Burk. The ensemble comprises Tierini Jackson vocals, Ori Naftali guitars, Daniel McKee bass, Tikrya Jackson drums and vocals plus keys man Jeremy Powell. The material is their own, bar the George Jackson credit on Slipped. Enough facts, let’s press Play…

Opening cut Don’t Give Up hits an acoustic bluesy groove and the lead vocal holds something back. Puts me in mind of The Staples. The recording is clear and the bass register about right for this dynamic. Then a ghostly slide sound that with my history I recognise straight away…Luther Dickinson, my old pal from the North Mississipi Allstars! I check the small print and yes, it is he! It’s an insistent neo-gospel but needs the piano mixed up, Donny Hathaway style.

On to What Did I Do commences with an Al Green soft choppy guitar with a well-keyed vocal from Tierini. She sounds midway between comfortable and pleading. The horns lean into the beat in fat slivers. It’s Gonna Be Alright stabs at the tempo to let the singing float. Neat drumming and just enough bass for a cool sway. The organ cruises along with a certain elan. Next up, Slipped, Tripped And Fell In Love is snappy funk with excellent guitar – I would have wah’d here! – and crisp horn elements. The song seems very familiar and the beat is very Joe Tex. Easily the best vocal here. Love Me Right takes a steady tread as its platform, mentholated piano prodding out the chords. Surely this is a stage favourite?

80 Miles From Memphis rides in on jungle drumming and a real intent, they sure have a grip on this one, maybe a set-starter. There’s Luther again! Wildflower is my favourite, stabbing beat and intriguing progression. Does call for a muted trumpet to sing overhead, I think. It’s this cut where Southern Avenue really do sound their own band. The bass is superb, the guitar bites, the drums are deft and sexy, the keys steady and colourful, the vocal fiery but not histrionic. Excellent. No Time To Lose goes for heavier riffing and pulls it off. Jackson sings to suit, holding on to the topline with its twists and emphasis.

Rumble is syncopated fun, an urgency in the delivery as the tale unfolds. It’s soon a fun gallop with jukebox guitar inserts. A joyous bass part that McKee rides, maybe with a grin. Final item in the programme is Peace Will Come returning to the delta acoustic overlaid with electric. It reeks of a twilight by the bayou, a nice vibe…

There’s not one tone or sound on this set that you couldn’t have heard back in The Sixties but for all its traditional ingredients this is a fresh-sounding stew that must surely point to an impressive stage presence…I hope so.

Pete Sargeant



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You can watch the official lyric video for 'Peace Will Come' in this article.

Southern Avenue's debut self-titled album is out now on Stax Records/Concord Music Group.

For more information visit the band's official website here: http://bit.ly/2KT36p5

In addition, Southern Avenue will tour the UK in July 2018 at the following venues and festivals:

Friday 13th July 2018 - The Blues Kitchen (Shoreditch), London, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2KApC6R

Saturday 14th July 2018 - Cornbury Music Festival, Great Tew Park, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/1SslWkz

Sunday 15th July 2018 - Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom http://bit.ly/2IBGWT9