Soulive seeks radio play with new album Break Out

Soulive seeks radio play with new album Break Out

Soulive
Break Out
Concord Records
4 out of 5

Break Out, the brand new album from Soulive, is poised to be just that, their break-out. With two songs being pushed for major market radio play and a young hip record company behind them, the excitement is palpable. “It is a little weird and freaky for us to have songs on the radio, and we’re going to get to do some of the late night shows in the next couple of weeks,” Alan Evans said in a conversation with The Marquee recently.

Soulive has been making some of the funkiest jazz on the jam band circuit for the last five years, and on their Concord Records debut they break the mold. The backbone of Soulive is still the tight grooves layed down by the Evans brothers, Neal (keyboards) and Alan (drums).  However, on this release their focus has moved away from complex jazz and is honed in on soul and R&B.

Within the opening seconds of the album, it becomes clear that this is a well produced project that is worthy of the high profile guests that add to the sound (Ivan Neville, Chaka Kahn, Robert Randolph, and Reggie Watts of Maktub, among others). The core trio of the Evans brothers and Eric Krasno (Guitar) welcome each guest with open arms, giving them the opportunity to shape the sound of the band.

“While Got Soul?” introduces the listener to the new Soulive with a very dirty ’70s funk beat that pulses from the speakers, “Cachaca” is strongly flavored with Latin jazz elements. No one would call Break Out a jazz record; however, one listen will reveal the jazz training these boys have had.

Further down the tracklist, Robert Randolph lends his pedal steel to a blistering version of the Hendrix classic “Crosstown Traffic.” With a vocal chorus that is just audible enough to give a gospel feel, and a guitar duel between Krasno and Randolph, this song is one of the standout tracks on the album.

Throughout the record, the soloists seem to emerge from the densely layered music with stealth, giving the music an effortless feel. Each new rhythm, riff or shrill horn line, stalk the listener, striking at exactly the right moment.

Over the years, Soulive has formed a very positive relationship with Maktub frontman Reggie Watts. Watts joins Soulive again on this project, bringing his best Curtis Mayfield to the table. The result is the R&B soaked “She’s Hooked,” Soulive’s first song to chart in mainstream radio play.

Soulive are paving the way for other, original young bands and they realize their role as pioneers.  “We want to get our foot in the door and keep it open for other bands that are trying to do something new,” said Alan.

Soulive started out with the mission of “bringing jazz back to the dance floor,” and they have done it again. This record is sure to get you moving and shaking. They have grown up and it is clear that this is the music that Soulive wants to be making right now.

—Timothy Dwenger

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