Sunday, September 8, 2013

Robin McKelle & The Flytones Sony 2013

The new voice of soul...
Brent Black /

I gotta be honest. For me, real soul music died about the time disco took over the pop charts with the last spade of dirt having been tapped down with the passing of perhaps the greatest soul singer of this or any generation in Marvin Gaye. Time passes and what had turned into watered down generic rhythm & blues is being given new life with Robin McKelle & The Flytones with their righteous release in Soul Flower!

Robin is blessed not only with a voice that is rich and warm but with a slightly smoky finish that puts you right on the edge of your seat and transports you to wherever her lyrical gifts decide to take you. McKelle has a jazz background as well as significant exposure to gospel and blues and the end result is what I like to call that cultural by product of her own experience that makes her gift truly special. The Flytones (and yes, they are indeed fly!) include Sam Barsh on piano, Derek Nievergelt on bass as they play an integral part in the success of this release. Remember back in the day when the session players on some of those great recordings were every bit as good and every bit as responsible for making an average tune good and a good tune great? Same here...

The overall sound? Muscle Shoals meets Stax on the way to Motown. Vibrant, alive, and dripping with real honest emotion. McKelle is a formidable lyricist and while I personally don't care for work that seems to want to beat me over the head with social consciousness or sell me an ideological view I simply don't dig, McKelle doesn't do that but instead embraces the real struggles of everyday life at a time when Hope and Change morphed into Misery and Despair for so many. As good as her originals are covers such as a kicked up reharm of "Walk On By" are even better. "To Love Somebody" is another cover that McKelle crushes taking no prisoners. "Love's Work" may be the finest original on this release and a duet with rising superstar Gregory Porter. 

Robin McKelle & The Flytones making old school new cool and giving real soul a chance at a second life. A stellar recording!