2016 – Ruf Records
By Phillip Smith; Aug. 13, 2016
I really like the musical direction Royal Southern Brotherhood is taking. Not straying too far from their bluesy roots, the band continues to keep a fresh and funky sound as they roll out their fourth fabulous album, The Royal Gospel. The RSB lineup this time around consists of singer/percussionist extraordinaire Cyril Neville, guitarists Bart Walker and Tyrone Vaughan, drummer Yonrico Scott, bassist Darrell Philips, and as guest on the B3, Norman Ceasar. There must have been a lot of magic in the air during the seven days of recording this album at the Dockside Studios in Louisiana. One can feel the connectivity and kinship of the band imbedded in the music.
“Where There’s Smoke, There’s Fire” opens with guitars blazing. Loaded with badass heavy riffs and an intense bassline, this song is best heard loud. The slide guitar on the swampy blues ditty “Spirit Man”, sounds downright great backed with the soul-filling sound of the B3. I love the trance-inducing rhythm in “Blood Is Thicker Than Water”. Neville’s smooth vocals fit in quite nicely. “Face of Love” is such a terrific song too. It is quite beautifully sung and performed. One of my favorite unexpected surprises is when RSB breaks out the funk in “Can’t Waste Time”. I can’t help but be transported to the late Seventies, when I was first started jamming out to Funkadelic.
The Royal Gospel closes out in full-on revival mode, urging folks to stand up for what they believe in, with “Stand up” , a soulful tune served ala gospel style, complete with lots of foot stomping and hand clapping. If this don’t get one moving, it’s likely nothing will. This lineup of RSB works really well, and I hope it stays in place for a while.