Monday, May 13, 2019

Album Review: Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul - Summer of Sorcery

Two years after Soulfire, Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul returns with more rollicking soul/rock but when the previous record was comprised of covers and songs Van Zandt had written for other artists, Summer of Sorcery is comprised solely of originals. And while those tunes are meant to be heard in concert, which is where the group excels, the album is a perfect blend of everything we love about the music of the sixties and seventies.

Like the Tedeschi/Trucks Band, the fifteen piece band is out to recreate the styles and sounds of the soul-rock revues of the seventies with a little garage edge: the band is focused, the arrangements are tight, but there is a shambolic sense of fun to the performances, a certain innocence despite the professionalism which gives the harkens back to the original spirit of rock and roll.

Like the band itself, the music is also a very diverse blend: rock and roll and soul of course, but also latin, doo-wop, blues... In fact the LP sounds like a block party in Hell's Kitchen in 1971. Percussions, funky horns, a Santana-esque guitar solo on Party Mambo!, the cinematic strings and flute of Vortex... Only on the last song, the title track, does the man allow himself to reference his day job: that song sounds like it could have been written by the Boss himself. It's all designed to pull you out of whatever passes for reality these days and make you sing and dance and groove and laugh and cry.

Little Steven isn't here to reinvent the wheel, but to keep it in motion. His voice, which was never his strongest asset, is in fine form on this record: he howls and groans and shouts and croons, giving life to those perfectly crafted little vignettes and slices of life.

If you are fan of Leon Russell, J Geils Band, Huey Lewis and the News, the Electric Flag, Bob Dylan's Rolling Thunder Revue-era, early Chicago Transit Authority or Blood Sweat and Tears you owe it to yourself to listen to one of the last outfits keeping that quintessentially American tradition alive.

Genre: Rock/Soul
Release Date: May 3rd, 2019
Label: Wicked Cool Records
Rating: 7/10

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