Royal Southern Brotherhood: HeartSoulBlood Review

Two years ago, members of two of the most respected musical families in the South joined forces to revive the spirit and soul of Southern rock for the genre’s modern age. Built on the combined talents of Cyril Neville (Neville Brothers), Devon Allman (son of Gregg Allman and leader of Honeytribe), Mike Zito (solo artist), Yonrico Scott (Derek Trucks Band), and Charlie Wooton (Charlie Wooton Project), Royal Southern Brotherhood debuted in May 2012 with a self-titled album that earned them instant credibility and enabled the band to perform their music at venues and festivals around the world. Supported by fans and their label representatives at Ruf Records, the quintet recently returned to the studio for their follow-up project HeartSoulBlood, a 12-track album released officially last month.

Stewarded by legendary producer Jim Gaines, HeartSoulBlood takes progressive strides from its predecessor. On Royal Southern Brotherhood, five musicians each known for unrelated high-profile projects came together to decipher the key to making their individualized styles flow together as one. Early on, Allman compared the collaboration in a Kirksville Daily Express article to a football setup with five quarterbacks learning to work together. While the band’s initial critics offered high praise for embracing this challenge, the unit is noticeably tighter on HeartSoulBlood. Album opener “World Blues” is speedy and unified, a strong first track that thrives on a thick recurring riff while lyrically paying tribute to influential blues styles across the globe. HeartSoulBlood provides similar up-tempo numbers in “Rock and Roll” and “Groove On” before delving into deeper waters on its remaining tracks. First to reel in the snappy tempos is “Here It Is,” a well-paced track with a strong backbeat that carries plenty of snap all its own.  “Ritual” and “She’s My Lady” follow as sweet tributes to a significant other, with occasional explicit inferences added for spice on “Ritual.” Ending on notes of peace and community with “Takes a Village” and “Love and Peace,” Royal Southern Brotherhood bring HeartSoulBlood full circle from their raunchy rock ‘n roll roots.

Exhibiting fluid transitions within each number and a solid collaborative element overall, HeartSoulBlood is evidence of the positive effects serious touring can have on a group, even one full of accomplished musicians such as Royal Southern Brotherhood. The group is airy and light in their recorded performances, suggesting that they hit their groove while out on the road and now feel more comfortable taking chances with and trusting each other than they did in the very beginning. Like many “super groups” of the moment, each musician involved in Royal Southern Brotherhood has multiple projects to focus on – but in this case, Royal Southern Brotherhood is clearly putting in the effort to advance as a unit.

The Review: 8/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– World Blues

– Rock and Roll

– Here It Is

– Takes a Village

The Big Hit

– World Blues

Review by Meghan Roos

Buy the album: Amazon | iTunes

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