Tag: soul

New Audio: The Rosebuds and Gayngs Frontman Howard Ivans Returns with a Sultry and Soulful New Single from Long-Awaited Solo Debut

Perhaps best known for being the frontman of The Rosebuds and Gayngs, Howard Ivans stepped away from his primary gigs to write and record the “Red Face Boy”/”Pillows” 7 inch through Richmond, VA-based indie label Spacebomb Records  — and if you were familiar with his work with his primary projects, Ivans’ solo work has a bold and decided change in sonic direction with his solo sound leaning heavily towards a sultry blue eyed soul reminiscent of The Righteous Brothers, Michael McDonald/Michael McDonald-era Doobie Brothers and Hall and Oates while nodding at 70s AM pop; in fact, Ivans once recorded a song-by-song remake of Sade’s Love Deluxe.

Now, four years have passed since I’ve last written about Ivans and if there’s one thing that’s true in the blogosphere age, it’s this — four years is an eternity. But interestingly enough Ivans long-awaited Trey Pollard and Cameron Ralston co-produced solo debut Beautiful Tired Bodies is slated for a September 22, 2017 release through Spacebomb Records, and as Ivans explains in press notes, while he could have recorded the album’s material at any point over the past four years, he felt very strongly that it just wouldn’t be the same without the Spacebomb Records house band, so he waited until everyone was available at the same time.

Beautiful Tired Bodies’ latest single “Come On” will further cement both Ivans and Spacebomb Records’ growing reputation for deliberately crafted, sultry pop that simultaneously nods at 70s AM pop and Quiet Storm soul and much like the sources that inspired it, at the heart of “Come On” is the vulnerable, aching, sensual need of a broken man, desperately seeking the electric touch of a lover — right now without delay. But along with that, the song’s narrator is making a plea to open himself up more, to be more vulnerable in the face of love. Such sentiment is rare; but it’s rare because it comes from a truly adult perspective.

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New Audio: Nature Sounds Re-Issues a Late and Under-Appreciated Soul Classic

The Exciters were a Queens, NY-based R&B and soul quartet that could actually trace their origins to when its founding members Brenda Reid (lead vocals), Carolyn “Carol” Johnson (vocals), Lillian Walker (vocals) and Sylvia Wilbur (voclas) formed an all-girl vocal act, The Masterettes as a sister group to another local act The Masters in 1961. As The Masterettes, Reid, Johnson, Walker and Wilbur released their first single “Follow the Leader” in early 1962; however, Wilbur left shortly after the single’s release and was replaced with Penny Carter. And with their new member The Masterettes auditioned for renowned songwriting and production duo Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, eventually winning a recording contract. Shortly after the contract was signed Carter left and was replaced by The Masters’ Herb Rooney, who later married Reid, and of course with the addition of Rooney, the quartet officially changed their name to The Exciters.

As The Exciters, the Queens-based R&B/soul quartet rose to national prominence with their 1962 smash hit “Tell Him,” which landed at number 4 on the US pop charts. The act continued to release well-regarded music for several years, including 1969’s Caviar and Chitlins through RCA Records, during what may be one of the most important, influential and commercially successful periods of the genre’s history. Coincidentally, some years later The Exciters’ Rooney would go on to write and produce Melvin Bliss’ Synthetic Substitution, which is arguably one of the more sampled albums in hip-hop.

Despite The Exciters’ relative success, Caviar and Chitlins had been out of print for several decades, until Brooklyn-based label Nature Sounds, a label that has released works from J. Dilla, Doom, Camp Lo and Masta Killa, recently released a vinyl re-issue, as well as the first digital release of the material ever. The re-issue’s first single is the sensual “Fight That Feelin,'” a song in which its narrator expresses that her desire for her lover has become insatiable, that her lover is much like a drug she can’t quit. And my goodness, this track should remind you of your parents soul collection and old episodes of Soul Train.

Live Footage: Thundercat feat. Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins Performing “Show You The Way” on “The Tonight Show”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site for some time, you’d recall that the past two years or so have been both incredibly productive and prolific for the critically applauded  bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. He made guest appearances contributing bass and/or vocals to Kendrick Lamar‘s Grammy Award-winning To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, and he followed that up by releasing what arguably may have been one of 2015’s best albums The Beyond/Where Giants Roam, an effort that I think further cemented his reputation as a dexterous bassist, who carefully walks a tightrope between jazz fusion, contemporary jazz and funk in a way that’s reminiscent of the late and great Jaco Pastorius — but while nodding at Stevie Wonder’s 70s and early 80s output, as it possessed a retro-futuristic sound. 

Last year, I wrote about “Bus In These Streets,” the first bit of music from the renowned bassist and vocalist in over a year, and the single was a comedic and playful ode to our reliance and dependence on technology in which Thundercat’s dexterous and sinuous bass lines with Louis Cole (keys, drums and programming) contributing shimmering and twinkling keys and propulsive drum programming and frequent collaborator Flying Lotus contributing more programming and editing in a song that evokes a dreamy, distracted self-absorption as the song’s narrator spends their time staring at their smartphone, not noticing the world pass him by — or the inherent danger he might be walking into as he stupidly stares into his phone.

Bruner’s third, full-length effort Drunk was released earlier this year and the album is reportedly an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes very dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist, and the effort find Bruner collaborating with an All-Star list of guests and friends including Kamasi Washington,  Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell Williams, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. While the album will feature fan favorites “Bus In These Streets” and “Them Changes,”  Drunk‘s first official single “Show You The Way” is a sleek and soulfully jazzy track in which shimmering arpeggio cascades of synths, stuttering drums, and Bruner’s imitable bass lines are paired in an incredible collaboration that features Bruner’s sultry falsetto with the imitable vocals of Kenny Loggins and Micheal McDonald. Sonically speaking the song is an uncanny synthesis of Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” and Bruner’s signature funky, retro-futuristic jazz fusion.

So how did such a high-powered collaboration come about? Thundercat has publicly mentioned his love of Loggins and his work during interviews to promote both The Beyond and the tour for the album — and it lead to his keyboardist Dennis Hamm introducing Bruner to Loggins. According to both Bruner and Hamm, Loggins then suggested bringing in Michael McDonald on the track. And as Bruner adds in press notes “I think one of the most beautiful moments of it was realizing how amazing Michael McDonald was. He would go through so many ideas and have so much to offer.” As for the song, Bruner says “That song to me is about going down the rabbit hole, taking you to another place . . . On the edge of dark, there’s the brightest light. It means a lot to me in the sense of . . .the experience that I’ve had growing up with friends and people that I’ve been around where it’s inventing them into where I come from emotionally. Sometimes it’s a pretty intense thing. The point is how weird things can get. ”

New Video: Righteously Protest with Old School Soul Legend Lee Fields in the New Visuals for “Make The World”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring Lee Fields and The Expressions — and you might recall that Fields can trace the origins of his almost 50 year music career back to his earliest recorded efforts, released in 1969. And although he’s toured with several renowned funk and soul acts, including Kool and the Gang, O.V. Wright, Hip Huggers, and others, Fields has toiled in a bit of obscurity to most; however, he has been long known to obsessive and completetist record collectors, deep soul fans and those seeking ridiculously obscure yet funky grooves.

Interestingly, over the past 10-15 years or so, the classic soul sound has seen a remarkable resurgence with the likes of Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, the late, great Chuck Brown and others receiving the fame and attention that had up until recently proven to be elusive. And of course, along with that, there have been an increasing number of contemporary acts all over the world that have been employing that classic and beloved sound. In fact, with the release of 2009’s My World, 2012’s Faithful Man and 2014’s Emma Jean Fields joined by his latest backing band The Expressions won both the attention of the blogosphere and new fans, while pushing their sound and lyrics in new directions; in fact, Emma Jean featured a gorgeous and soulful cover of Leon Russell’s “Out In The Woods,” which also managed to evoke Fields’ own experience of arriving in the NYC area as a 17 year old with only $20 in his pocket and a desire to make a name for himself at all costs.

Fields’ fourth album with The Expressions, Special Night was released last November through Big Crown Records, and the album’s first single “Make The World,” is a stomping, early 70s James Brown-indebted bit of funk with a powerful and positive message that says we need to start getting our acts together, and uniting towards one purpose — getting things right or else we’ll be marching blindly towards our self-destruction. As Fields explains in press notes “The world was designed to last indefinitely. And we’re the only living species on Earth who can alter that process. I’m hoping that song has a chain reaction, helps somebody put into action whatever contribution they can to change what the world is going through.”

Directed by Kate Cunningham, the recently released video for “Make The World” begins with Fields and a small group of backing musicians, as well as a couple of subway performers performing the song at the Bedford Avenue L train stop while waiting for the train. We then see Fields and his band of musicians marching through the 14th Street and 6th Avenue and 14th Street and 7th Avenue stations with a directed and forceful purpose — they’re heading uptown to the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle, to join the President’s Day demonstrations, where they remind the protestors of why they’re there in the first place — to come together and change the world while making eerie parallels to the protests and demonstrations of the 1960s.

New Video: El Michels Affair’s Soulful and Cinematic Take on the Wu-Tang

Comprised of founding member, bandleader and primary arranger Leon Michels (saxophone), Homer Steinweiss (drums), Nick Movshon (bass), Thomas Brenneck (guitar), Sean Solomon (guitar), Tobias Pazner (keyboards), Michael Leonhart (trumpet) and Todd Simon (trumpet), the El Michels Affair is a Brooklyn-based All-Star, instrumental soul act featuring members from several renowned, locally-based acts including The Arcs, Menahan Street Band, The Shacks, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Lee Fields and the Expressions. After the release of their 2005 debut Sounding Out the City, the band was paired with Raekwon for a concert organized by Scion and it eventually led to a tour that featured several members of the Wu-Tang Clan. And interestingly enough, touring with the members of the Wu inspired the El Michels Affair’s sophomore effort Enter the 37th Chamber, soul-based, instrumental interpretations of the material off Wu-Tang’s seminal debut Enter the 36 Chambers.

Unsurprisingly, Enter the 37th Chamber has proven to be the band’s most commercially successful album to date, introducing the band to a much wider audience. It’s been several years since the band has released new material, as the members of the band have been extremely busy with their primary gigs, they had some time to reconvene to write and record Return to the 37th Chamber, their breakthrough sophomore effort’s long-awaited follow up. And much like its predecessor, the material will further cement the band’s reputation for soul music interpretations of the Wu Tang’s material for a live band, while paying homage to RZA’s imitable, hazy production; in fact, Michels in his role as producer, recorded the album straight to analog tape, sometimes hitting six generations of tape before it was ready for mixing. Adding to the album’s overall sound, the material possesses the occasional psychedelic flourish, John Carpenter-like synths, power chord-friendly guitar work, the enormous horn sections and traditional Chinese instrumentation in place of most of the vocals and guest spots from Lee Fields and The Shacks’ Shannon Wise. Essentially, while being a tribute to one of hip-hop’s most interesting, challenging producers and artists and his sound, the album finds the members of El Michels Affair picking up on and expanding the cinematic aspects of RZA’s production.

Of course, while Enter the 37th Chamber paid tribute to Enter the 36 Chambers, the El Michels Affair tackles some of the Wu’s beloved classics such as “4th Chamber” and “Wu Tang Ain’t Nuthin ta Fuck Wit,” as well as deeper cuts like Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Snakes,” Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse,” and Wu-Tang’s contribution to St. Ide’s legendary early 90s ad campaign, “Shaolin Brew.” Now, as you may remember earlier this month, I wrote about Return to the 37th Chamber’s first single “Tearz.” And that single, which featured guest spots from the aforementioned Lee Fields and Shannon Wise managed to sound as though it paid equal respect to the Wendy Rene original song from which the song’s backing sample came from as it did to the Wu Tang’s own use of the sample — but with subtly psychedelic flourishes.

Return to the 37th Chamber’s latest single “Iron Man” is a cinematic reworking of “Iron’s Theme (Interlude)” off Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele, that expands upon the original’s groove to make it a full-length song — but with martial arts and psychedelic film sound effects.

Directed by artist El Oms, who met Leon Michels though The Arcs and has become a fan of the El Michels Affair, the animated video is a fittingly a martial arts, revenge saga, complete with a couple of trippy flashbacks and a shit ton of bloody mayhem — and I bet it would be make Quentin Tarantino proud. As El Oms explains in press notes “Making this video really brought me back to my younger days. I grew up watching martial art movies and listening to Wu-Tang and when I heard El Michels Affair’s Enter The 37th Chamber I was blown away by the way the album captured those elements and still sounded original. So being able to work on Return To The 37th Chamber was truly amazing. I try to capture those same elements on the ‘Iron Man’ video and give it this originality but still have the old traditional martial arts movie feel to it.”

Comprised of three siblings, twins Alexis (bass) and Zandy Fitzgerald (guitar), along with their brother Darius (drums) and cousin Jasmine Mullen (vocals, guitar), The New Respects are a Nashville, TN-based blues rock act, that has been heavily influenced by the gospel music they were surrounded by — but also by a healthy amount of secular and pop artists including Aretha Franklin, Alabama Shakes, John Mayer and others. Produced by Leagues‘ Jermey Lutito, the Nashville, TN-based quartet’s debut EP Here Comes Trouble is slated for a March 10, 2017 release through Credential Recordings and with the release of the EP’s first single “Trouble,” which has seen recent placements on ESPN’s Major League Soccer coverage, Fox Sports’ Road To The Octagon and TNT’s NBA coverage, as well as praise from NPR World Music Cafe‘s Jewly Hight. And unsurprisingly, as a result, The New Respects’ debut EP may arguably be one of the most highly-anticipated EPs of the first few months of 2017.

Here Comes Trouble‘s second and latest single “Money” is a gritty yet funky and soulful that not only displays The New Respect’s genre-defying sound — a sound which effortlessly meshes blues, arena rock, pop and hip-hop; but it also reveals a band that has an uncanny ability to write an swaggering and anthemic, power chord friendly hook paired with a sinuous bass line, a darting yet funky guitar line, thunderous drumming and Mullen’s powerhouse, pop belter vocals. Sonically speaking “Money” will likely remind listeners of The Black Keys, Robert Randolph and The Family Band and others and while that would be a fair comparison, lyrically the song has struck me as an ironic take on “If I Was a Rich Girl” that not only points out that being filthy rich won’t buy you more time, nor would it buy you much in the way of happiness.  In fact, the song suggests two things that seem to be an anathema in our consumer world — that having money and a lot of possessions actually distracts you from life’s true purpose: to love someone else and to be here now.

Directed by Ry Cox, the artfully shot, recently released music video follows the members of the band as they break into the home of some rich guy as he’s away to play music and invite friends and other associates to the house, along with footage of the band languidly enjoying the fruits of greed and power as they sing the song’s hook. And while being kind of trippy, the video ends with the band disappearing before the rich man’s return.

The quartet will be opening for Robert and The Family Band throughout March. Check out tour dates below.

Tour

Supporting Robert Randolph & The Family Band

3/15 — Cincinnati, OH @ The Ballroom @ Taft

3/16 — Cleveland, OH @ Beachland Ballroom

3/17 — Chicago, IL @ Lincoln Hall

3/18 — Madison, WI @ Majestic

3/20 — Kansas City, MO @ Knuckleheads

3/22 — Fort Collins, CO @ Aggie

3/24 — Boulder, CO @ Fox Theatre

3/25 — Denver, CO @ Gothic Theatre

3/26 — Aspen, CO @ Belly Up

Perhaps best known as a member of Charles Bradley’s backing band The Extraordinaires, the late, great Sharon Jones’ backing band The Dap Kings, Lee Fields’ backing band, The Expressions, Antibalas and The Budos Band, who has also collaborated with Mark Ronson and others, the Chicago, IL-born, New York-based trumpeter Billy Aukstik began writing his own soul-inspired compositions and founded Brooklyn-based indie soul label Dala Records. And since founding the label, Aukstik has produced the debut efforts of a handful of locally-based artists including singer/songwriter, John Fatum, The Rad Trads, Michael Harlen, Patrick Sargent and Camellia Hartman, as well as his own solo work under the moniker Billy the Kid.

Dala Records’ latest rlease “Breathing Hard (Over You)”/”Honey Bee” is a split 7 inch single featuring labelmates Camellia Hartman and its founder Aukstik, backed by the Dala Records house band, The Soulful Saints. Hartman is an East Village-born and raised vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, who as a child studied the Suzuki method on violin, bass and guitar at rock ‘n’ roll day camp, trombone in middle school band and a capella in high school — and her contribution to the split 7 inch, “Breathing Hard (Over You)” was recorded and mixed on an 8 track tape machine, which further emphasizes the classic Motown meets Northern soul production. And while making the song sound as though it could have been released as a 45rpm single back in 1964, the production manages to give Hartman’s tender yet playfully coquettish vocals room to express an aching yet somewhat girlish longing and desire.

Aukstik’s contribution “Honey Bee” is a twangy, slow-burning, 70s AM rock meets Muscle Shoals-leaning bit of soul that features Aukstik’s tender falsetto over an arrangement featuring lap steel guitar, Farfisa organ, Maestro Rhythm King drum machine, fuzzy guitar chords and a sinuous hook — and while nodding at psych rock, the song to my years reminds me a bit of Sandra Rhodes’ sadly forgotten Muscle Shoals meets Nashville solo debut, Where’s Your Love Been.

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Growing up listening to an eclectic variety of music including Patti Labelle, Jill Scott, Bob James, Stevie Wonder, D’Angelo, Bjork and The Black Crowes among others, up-and-coming, Edmonton, AB-born, Toronto, ON-based soul artist Tanika Charles quickly developed a reputation locally as an emerging solo artist, whose puts a modern spin on the classic Motown soul sound — frequently meshing it with swaggering, hip-hop-like beats and deeply, confessional and honest lyrics, reminiscent of Mary J. Blige, Kelis and others. And as a result, within Canada’s soul scene, Charles has largely been considered her country’s next big thing; in fact, interestingly enough, over the past couple of years Charles transformed from being an emerging solo artist to being a commanding performer and bandleader, as well as one of the scene’s staples. Adding to a growing national profile, Charles has collaborated with Estelle, Lauryn Hill and Macy Gray, and has made regular appearances on CTV, Global and CBC Radio.

Produced by Slakah the Beatchild, best known for collaborating with Drake, Charles’ latest single “Soul Run” is the first single off her self-titled, full-length album, slated for an April 7, 2017 release through Italian soul label, Record Kicks, and the single will further cement the Edmonton-born, Toronto-based singer/songwriter’s burgeoning reputation for crafting confessional lyrics based around her own personal experiences with “Soul Run” based around Charles’ experience of feeling trapped in an emotionally abusive relationship in rural Canada — until she decided to “borrow” her then fiancée’s car and left for Toronto to start her music career, never looking back. Considering the personal nature of the song, Charles as the song’s narrator expresses regret over her own foolishness that wound up with her being hopelessly trapped in an abusive and fucked up relationship and desperate desire to get away and start over. You can almost picture Charles, jumping into the car with whatever possessions she could manage and hitting the road without an idea of where she was going or what would happen — and yet feeling true freedom to do whatever she wanted.

 

 

 

Comprised of founding member, bandleader and primary arranger Leon Michels (saxophone), Homer Steinweiss (drums), Nick Movshon (bass), Thomas Brenneck (guitar), Sean Solomon (guitar), Tobias Pazner (keyboards), Michael Leonhart (trumpet) and Todd Simon (trumpet), the El Michels AffairT is a Brooklyn-based All-Star, instrumental soul act featuring members from several renowned acts including The Arcs, Menahan Street Band, The Shacks, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Lee Fields and the Expressions. After the release of their 2005 debut Sounding Out the City, the band was paired with Raekwon for a concert organized by Scion  and it eventually led to a tour that featured several members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Interestingly, touring with the members of the Wu-Tang led to the band’s sophomore effort Enter the 37th Chamber, an effort that consisted of soul-based, instrumental interpretations of the Wu-Tang Clan’s influential debut Enter the 36 Chambers. 

Unsurprisingly, Enter the 37th Chamber has introduced the band and its members to a much wider audience, while being their most commercially successful effort to date. Although the members of El Michels Affair had been busy with their primary gigs, they reconvened to record Return To The 37th Chamber, the highly-anticipated follow- up to Enter the 37th Chamber — and reportedly while reinterpreting and arranging Wu-Tang songs for a live band, Return to the 37th Chamber also pays homage to RZA‘s imitable, hazy production; in fact, Michels in his role as producer, recorded the album straight to analog tape, sometimes hitting six generations of tape before it was ready for mixing. Adding to the album’s overall sound, the material possesses the occasional psychedelic flourish, John Carpenter-like synths, power chord-friendly guitar work, the enormous horn sections and traditional Chinese instrumentation in place of most of the vocals — or in other words, the material balances RZA’s imitable and influential aesthetic with El Michels Affair’s burgeoning reputation for cinematic and swaggering soul.

As far as the material on the new album, the renowned instrumental soul act tackles some of the Wu’s beloved classics such as “4th Chamber” and “Wu Tang Ain’t Nuthin ta Fuck Wit,” as well as deeper cuts like Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Snakes,” Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse,” and Wu-Tang’s contribution to St. Ide’s legendary early 90s ad campaign, “Shaolin Brew.” And unlike the previous album, the band invites some of their Big Crown Records labelmates to contribute guest spots; in fact, the first single off the “Tearz”/”Verbal Intercourse” 7 inch — and first single off the forthcoming album features Lee Fields and The Shacks’ Shannon Wise contributing vocals for the El Michels Affair rendition of “Tearz,” a rendition that pays as much homage to the Wendy Rene sample as it does to the Wu Tang while being subtly psychedelic.

 

 

 

Currently comprised of Brendan O’Connell (keyboard, guitar, primary songwriter and bandleader), Stefanie Berecz (vocals), Chris Corsale (guitar), Greg Nergaard (bass), Lucas Gillan (drums), Caleb Mitchell (trumpet), and Jim Schram (saxophone, horn arrangements), the Chicago, IL-based soul and pop septet The Right Now received attention nationally with the release of their 2012 sophomore Gets Over You. And although it’s been a while since I’ve written about them, the members of the band went through a series of personal and personnel changes that influenced a changing songwriting approach and sound; in fact, the band’s third full-length effort Starlight, slated for a February 24, 2017 finds the band branching out from the soul-revivalist sound that first captured national attention with material that still draws from soul and R&B, as well as disco and pop.

With numerous personal and personnel changes, the members of the band found that getting the material’s sound right was much more important than rushing music out that didn’t feel right or properly express what they wanted to express. As bandleader and primary songwriter Brendan O’Connell explains in press notes “Our goal was to fine-tune the songs and production to make every note count, every chorus big and memorable, and craft something really special. While I love what we achieved on our last album, I felt it was important to transcend the ‘retro-soul’ genre and concentrate on writing the best songs I could for Stef’s [Stefanie Berecz] voice.”

Whereas Gets Over You‘s material was primarily about love and heartbreak, and finding a way to move forward with one’s life, the material on Starlight was deeply influenced by the sociopolitical climate of the US over the past 12-18 months or so, and while drawing on the classic soul and pop tropes of heartbreak, the material lyrically and thematically also draws from the social and political issues of our tense, fraught time, as well as on addiction and recovery. As for the album’s title, when the band came up with it, it felt instantly right. “The night sky is something that connects and unifies everyone on this planet, regardless of all the perceived differences that we may have,” the band explains in press notes. “We’ve been fortunate enough to travel all over the country as musicians and have found that people share more in common values than one might think. Starlight is also useful to think of in terms of an ancient system of navigation — or a guide.”

Interestingly, the album was recorded three different times — once with Iron and Wine’s and Andrew Bird’s Neil Strauch, the second time the band self-produced it, and the third and final time was with Vijay Tellis-Nayak. And although there were numerous stops and starts, each new take on the material served as a roadmap to what they wanted to achieve. Now, as I mentioned earlier the band went through a different songwriting and recording process with their soon-to-be released third album being their first proper pop album — and the members of the band have excitedly embraced the change. Says O’Connell, “Starlight is the album where we embraced being a pop band more than a soul band—a welcome and liberating shift in approach that wasn’t really discussed or ordained but just manifested itself naturally.”

“Too Late” the album’s first single is a swaggering, soul-pop number with an infectiously anthemic yet heartbreaking hook bolstered by a sinuous horn line. And while being a bit of a tell-off to a deceitful, ungrateful lover, who the song’s narrator is glad to be rid of, the song also manages to possess the bitter and lingering resentments of promises said and unfilled, of time passing and being lost, of things that should have been said but for a variety of reasons hadn’t been said. But even with all of that being, the song’s narrator is a modern woman after all, and as a result, the song reveals a fully-fleshed out woman, who recognizes her own strength, resolve and power — and in many ways, the song will remind you of women you know and admire.