Review: Royal Southern Brotherhood – heartsoulblood

Posted on: Thursday, Aug 21, 2014


Royal Southern Brotherhood – heartsoulblood

(Ruf Records: RUF 1204)

The second studio album from the Royal Southern Brotherhood, among a large number of solo releases, is again a ‘melting pot’ of all things from the southern states of the USA – a heady mix of rock, blues, funk, soul and more, and again of the highest quality . . . no surprise given the names in the band: Cyril Neville (percussion and vocals), Devon Allman (guitar and vocals), Mike Zito (guitar and vocals), Charlie Wooton (bass and backing vocals) and Yonrico Scott (drums and backing vocals) . . . with “heartsoulblood” being recorded at Dockside Studio, Maurice, Louisiana and produced by the award-winning Jim Gaines.

The 12 tracks here feature co-writes and individual song credits from the band members, who in true ‘collective’ style share lead vocals and solos throughout the songs. The album gets off to a tremendous start with the funky “World Blues”, driven by the twin guitars, and the percussion of Cyril Neville and of course the ‘top drawer’ rhythm section; Neville’s rousing “Rock And Roll” keeps the pace up – as the title would suggest it is an uptempo rocker that fairly tears along, with more guitar fireworks from Messrs Zito and Allman. The pace is taken down on the lovely Latin-flavoured “Groove On” from Devon Allman, with Santana-esque guitar and smooth engaging vocal . . . and as close to a title track.

Cyril Neville and Mike Zito’s “Callous” rides on a funky groove with stellar performances from all again; and it is followed by Zito’s own “Ritual”, a tale of voodoo, magic and more and, like all the songs on “heartsoulblood” is virtually flawless . . . from the singing, playing to Jim Gaines production prowess. The sweet soul of Devon Allman’s “Shoulda Known” is a gem – he is primarly known for his guitar work but is also a quite superb singer.

Elsewhere the whole band contribute to the strutting “Trapped”, and the smooth and soulful “She’s My Lady” features Cyril Neville on top form; this most enjoyable release ending with the tough and hook-laden “Love And Peace”. It’s easy to see how these guys have swept all before them over the last couple of years . . . great players, writers, top songs and a real history for the music from years of experience both in the studio and on the road . . . they seem destined to be around for a very, very long time!


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