Alan Evans is a songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for being the co-founder of acclaimed jazz fusion trio and JOVM mainstays Soulive. Back in 2008, while Soulive was on a break from touring, Evans spent his time producing, recording and mixing bands from around the world in his Western Massachusetts-based recording studio. On his off days, Evans would go into the studio and play guitar, eventually recording a collection of songs that he felt didn’t quite fit with Soulive that he wanted to release on his own — Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers wound up becoming Evans’ guitar playing alter ego.
Last month, I wrote about “Good Thang,” a track that featured an All-Star cast of funk and jazz musicians that included DJ Williams’ Shots Fired‘s and Rubblebucket’s Darby Wolf (organ), The Curtis Mayflower’s Pete Aleski (guitar), Akashic Record’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Brian “BT” Thomas” (trombone), ALC Funktet’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet), BT ALC Big Band’s Tucker Antell (alto and tenor saxophone) BT ALC Big Band’s Jared Sims (baritone sax) and Kim Dawson (vocals), who contributed sultry vocals to a feel good, Daptone meets Muscle Shoals-like anthem.
Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers’ latest single “As Far As We Know” finds Evans collaborating with frequent collaborators Darby Wolf (piano), BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet) and Brian “BT” Thomas (trombone) and Cynthia Tolson (string) on a slow-burning and gentle old-school arrangement that recalls Curtis Mayfield. Stephane Detchou, a Montreal-born and-based, Cameroonian-Canadian singer/songwriter, who writes and performs as Brother GoodLove, a soul project that finds the Cameroonian-Canadian exploring his identity and sense of self and reflecting on the world at large while pushing for a future with peace through the understanding of others contributes the song’s hopeful and uplifting lyrics and vocals. Even when things seem bleak and uncertain, we can still hold on to the hope that a new paradigm and a new world may be just around the corner — it’s just a shame that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lewis and countless other brothers and sisters, who pushed this country to live up to the ideals of its framers aren’t alive to finally see it.
“I originally wrote the music for ‘As Far As We Know’ back in May 2019 with another VLM project in mind,” Evans says of the latest Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers single. “”I knew that I wanted to have Stephane (Brother GoodLove) singing on this song from the beginning. I didn’t realize that Stephane would turn that working title into such beautiful and powerful lyrics—I was really blown away when he sent me the first demo of the vocal and couldn’t wait to get it into full production but for whatever reason, it wasn’t the right time. But once I had the idea for the new CrushedVelvet and the Velveteers album, ‘As Far As You Know’ being included was a no brainer. So during quarantine, Stephane cut the vocals and I called on my Vintage League Music family of musicians to fill out the song and the rest is history. Without a doubt, it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.”
Directed by Samuel Hall, the recently released video for “As Far As Know” follows Stephane Detchou on a stroll through Washington, DC — and while capturing daily life in DC during the COVID-19 pandemic, the video primarily is focused around the city’s Black Lives Matter protests. The song and its accompanying video manages to capture the hope for positive change and equality for all that we hope is coming soon. And in case you forgot: BLACK LIVES MATTER!