Royal Southern Brotherhood – HeartSoulBlood (2014)

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This album begins with a telling song: “World Blues.” That opening title is as good a description as any of what unfolds on HeartSoulBlood, the Royal Southern Brotherhood’s incendiary blending of cultures, sounds and themes. Its members may be famous enough in their own right for this amalgam to be dubbed a supergroup, but there’s too much authenticity — too much gravitas and grit — associated with these songs for that often-deflating tag to stick.

Instead, the Royal Southern Brotherhood plunges a ladle deep into the Deep South’s bubbling gumbo pot of musical influences. They arrived there not as dilettantes, but as respected practitioners of the musical culinary arts: The group, after all, is anchored by Devon Allman, son of Gregg; Cyril Neville, of the Neville Brothers; and blues dynamo Mike Zito. This core trio has been augmented by drummer Yonrico Scott and bassist Charlie Wooten.

Together, HeartSoulBlood charges past the typically static genres of funk, rock, blues and reggae like a farm truck between shotgun-blast rows of cotton, corn and soybeans. Push the pedal far enough down, and all of it tends to blend together in the rearview — just as they do here.

How these guys came to this place is a story of happenstance and hard work. The Royal Southern Brotherhood have followed up their well-received debut with scores of collaborative dates worldwide, in between their main gigs. They’ve emerged with something more complete than before, in the sense of this album and of this band. As they trade vocals, trade licks and trade songwriting credits, these guys give new weight to the last word in their band name, even as they continue to make good on the other two.

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