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Royal Southern Brotherhood


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Chemistry. You either got it, or you don’t. When the five members of Royal Southern Brotherhood convened in February 2016 at Dockside Studios, Louisiana, there was magic in the air. Just seven days later, the acclaimed U.S. soul-blues collective emerged triumphant with The Royal Gospel: the fourth album in their rocket-heeled rise and further proof of a lineup born to play together.

Enough has been said about Royal Southern Brotherhood’s illustrious backstory. Enough has been written about the critical acclaim and sell-out crowds that greeted the original lineup’s 2012 breakout. Right now, fans would rather hear about the questing new material and finger-on-pulse worldview of The Royal Gospel, released 2016 on Ruf Records. Amen to that.

Like all the best groups, Royal Southern Brotherhood has evolved. Having bonded on 2015’s Don’t Look Back, the MkII lineup of Cyril Neville (percussion/vocals), Bart Walker (guitar/vocals), Tyrone Vaughan (guitar/vocals) and Yonrico Scott (drums) have found another gear on bolstered by new recruit Darrell Philips (bass/vocals),and guest B3 from Norman Caesar.

“As far as the men making the music and playing the songs,” says Neville, “the mission of the band has never changed.”

Scan the credits for The Royal Gospel and you’ll recognize that while some bands operate a songwriting dictatorship, this one thrives on material penned in partnership (or even originated between three members). Neville is as prolific as you’d expect – given the fistful of projects he’s kept spinning over the decades – but so too are Walker and Vaughan, who collaborated remotely with their bandleader, trading ideas back-and-forth via the Web.

“It’s not often that you find a connection like Cyril and me,” explains Walker, whose Nashville home is some 800 miles from Neville’s base in New Orleans. “It got to the point where we were almost in each other’s heads – and we had already worked out what the other one was gonna say.”

“It’s a very spiritual thing,” agrees Neville. “I kinda laughed, because Bart was getting ahead of what I was even thinking. Last time, we actually got together in the room to do the demos. This time, it was all done by iPhone and stuff like that. But when you taste this musical gumbo, you’re gonna be very satisfied. However we approached the kitchen.”

When the band and famed producer David Z arrived at Dockside, the recording ethos was unapologetically old-school: simply cut the songs live in the room, eyeball-to-eyeball, in a minimum of takes. “We walked in not really knowing what we were gonna do,” recalls Philips. “Cyril and Bart come to us with chord progressions, tempos, and ideas, and we build together. We’d just fall right into the thing and all of a sudden, there’s the song. On this record, we came together as a band. It was a magical thing to witness.”

Likewise, it’s a magical album to hear. The Royal Gospel opens in emphatic style with “Where There’s Smoke There’s Fire”: a stinging statement of intent co-written by Neville and Vaughan, whose hard-rock riffing is tempered by a vocal addressing a woman with “the face of an angel, a body that’s divine”. That same writing duo also strikes gold on “Can’t Waste Time”, its descending guitar hook fused to a lyric about a two-faced lover (“Girl, you’re like a ship without a rudder”).

Fans of the Brotherhood’s bluesier side will relish the rolling rhythms of “Spirit Man”, and hit repeat for “I’m Comin’ Home”, with its molten slide-guitar solo and travelogue lyric (“The road just goes on and on”). Elsewhere, Walker and Neville are at their soulful best on “Blood Is Thicker Than Water”, the veteran bandleader singing that “there’s nothing more sacred than the love of a son or daughter”, over a groove sure to shake the room as the band tour the world through 2016. “It’s extremely groove-orientated, this stuff,” nods Walker.

The Royal Gospel might move your feet, but it’s not afraid to challenge your perceptions.

“The whole record is geared toward making a joyful noise,” says Neville, “but while we’re partying, we still need to be thinking about what’s going on around us. It covers what we’ve seen in our travels over the last few years, and what we’ve lived personally as citizens of the world.”

Case in point, “Hooked On The Plastic” is an irresistible funk workout with soul-drenched backup vocals, but also a razor-sharp critique of consumerism (“Livin’ way above your means… no end to the stream of green”). And stick around for closing track “Stand Up”. A joyous call-to-arms in the face of feckless modern politicians, it ends with an electrifying outro, the band building to a dizzying crescendo while Neville hollers a global message to take a stand: “Come together! Come together!”

It’s a thrilling finale to an album that cements Royal Southern Brotherhood’s reputation as a modern band to treasure. This is The Royal Gospel. Consider us converted. Only an elite group of players can be in a band like RSB, for it calls for supreme musical chops, soul giving and a little voodoo for each night the bar is raised.

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"This is a rock album worth blasting, and it might get you a little healing as well."
- OFFBEAT MAGAZINE

"The musical blaze that has raged inside the soul of the youngest Neville brother in songs such as “Sister Rosa,” about civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, the multicultural anthem “My Blood” and his entire first solo effort, “The Fire This Time,” an artistic bomb Neville lobbed in 1994 toward everything from New Orleans’ history of slavery and racism to the White House, burns just as hot today as it did when he was sharing frontman duties with brother, Aaron Neville, in The Neville Brothers."
- SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE

"It’s evident that life after The Neville Brothers seems to have given the soulful 67-year-old New Orleans music icon a new lease on life with his own band, Royal Southern Brotherhood, which just released a new record that debuted at No. 7 on Billboard’s Blues Chart, “The Royal Gospel.”"
- SOUTH BEND TRIBUNE

“…RSB established itself as a top act in the long-term.”
- Classic Rock Germany, 07/2016

“A cracker of an album, varied and oh so danceable to.”
- music-news.com - UK

Royal Southern Brotherhood Announces Plans To Spread "The Royal Gospel"

Upcoming Tour Coincides With Release of New Critically Acclaimed Album

New Orleans band Royal Southern Brotherhood are bringing their songs of celebration to a nation that needs that message more than ever. The band has announced an upcoming tour in support of The Royal Gospel, their new critically acclaimed album. The tour will launch on October 8 in Jackson, Mississippi and then make its way north with stops in New York, Washington D.C., Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England.

Indeed, four albums on, Royal Southern Brotherhood have moved to the top ranks of the jam band legions, bringing with them a certain distinction that affirms their credence and credentials. In truth, they come about their royal moniker quite rightfully, being that two members of this collective are affiliated with one of the most revered families in rock. Grammy-winning vocalist/ percussionist Cyril Neville is one of the most respected icons of New Orleans’ storied musical legacy, courtesy of his history with the Meters, the Neville Brothers and the Amnesty International Tours, while his nephew, keyboard player Ivan Neville, made his own mark in his own band Dumpstaphunk and his work with the Rolling Stones. The newer players in the fold -- dual guitarists Bart Walker (a one time member of the Screamin’ Cheetah Willies) and Tyrone Vaughn (who’s dad Jimmie Vaughn and late uncle Stevie Ray gave him a fine bloodline all his own) -- are also an essential part of the core line-up, which also includes bassist Charlie Wooton and drummer Yonrico Scott.

Since its release on June 24, The Royal Gospel has garnered the band some of the most effusive reviews of their already illustrious career. Offbeat Magazine hailed it as “A rock album worth blasting... it might get you a little healing as well.” Britain’s music-news.com described it as “A cracker of an album, varied and oh so danceable to.” The South Bend Tribune raved “It’s evident that life after The Neville Brothers seems to have given the soulful 67-year-old New Orleans music icon a new lease on life...The musical blaze that has raged inside the soul of the youngest Neville brother...burns just as hot today as it did when he was sharing frontman duties with brother, Aaron Neville, in The Neville Brothers.”

“The whole record is geared toward making a joyful noise,” Ivan himself says. “But while we’re partying, we still need to be thinking about what’s going on around us. It covers what we’ve seen in our travels over the last few years, and what we’ve lived personally as citizens of the world.”

Watch a video for “Face Of Love” here

View a trailer for Royal Gospel CD

Here’s a private soundcloud link:

“As far as the men making the music and playing the songs the mission of the band has never changed,” Cyril insists.

The credits for the new album bear that out. While some bands boast only one or two songwriters, Royal Southern Brotherhood’s material is spawned from three equally prolific partners. Cyril Neville is as prolific as one would expect, given a career that’s spanned several decades. Yet at the same time, Walker and Vaughan also step up to the plate, collaborating remotely and trading ideas back-and-forth via the Web.

“It’s not often that you find a connection like Cyril and me,” explains Walker, whose Nashville home is some 800 miles from Neville’s base in New Orleans. “It got to the point where we were almost in each other’s heads – and we had already worked out what the other one was gonna say.”

“It’s a very spiritual thing,” Neville agrees. “I kinda laughed, because Bart was getting ahead of what I was even thinking. Last time, we actually got together in the room to do the demos. This time, it was all done by iPhone and stuff like that. But when you taste this musical gumbo, you’re gonna be very satisfied. However we approached the kitchen.”

Amen to that. With the upcoming tour, fans will have the opportunity to witness that full flavorful brew for themselves.