Musician: Cyril Neville

Publisher: RUF RECORDS

Audio CD (September 10, 2013)


Grammy winning Vocalist and percussionist Cyril Neville doesn't require much of an introduction. They youngest of The Neville Brothers, Cyril was a one time member of The Meters, is currently touring with the R&B supergroup Royal Southern Brotherhood, and has a history of issuing hot solo albums and collaborations with the likes of Bob Dylan, Bono, and Willie Nelson.

Still, his new Magic Honey is likely to surprise those who think they know what to expect from Neville. While there's plenty of rhythm in Magic Honey, the dominant groove is the sho nuff blues. In no small part, this is due to the soaring, searing guitar work of Cranston Clements. But the hot core band was also so in-the-pocket, the 12 songs were all live first takes. That group included "Mean" Willie Green (drums), Carl Dufrene (bass), and Norman Caesar (keyboards). Not surprisingly, there's some Neville family contributions, in this case backup vocals from Gaynielle, Cyril's wife, and his son, Omari Neville.

Naturally, some notable heavyweights helped in the sessions as with Allen Toussaint on piano on the lively "Another Man" and Dr. John on organ for the rundown of musical history in "Swamp Funk." Spicing up the guitar leads are ex-Bluesbreakers’ Walter Trout on "boiling up Running Water" and Royal Southern brother Mike Zito who appears on the two least bluesy of the songs, the funky reggae of "Money and Oil" and the hard rocking, Hendrix-flavored "Working Man."

In the main, as Neville sings on the "Blues Is The Truth," you're not going to think New Orleans, but perhaps Memphis, Chicago, or Austin. What's wrong with that? The album opens with "Magic Honey" which is all about a mean Queen Bee and "You Can Run But You Can't Hide" offers words of wisdom to rule breakers everywhere. Yep honey, this is the blues and 64 year old Cyril has the voice to give them serious conviction.

Magic Honey isn't a remarkable ground-breaking album for Neville, but instead it sounds like a good Saturday night gig where we the audience get to hear some hot licks in songs that invite us to turn it up. "Working Man," in particular, should have a wide appeal across the sub-genres of rock 'n roll. Why be upset Neville isn't stirring up more Louisiana gumbo on Bourbon Street? He ain't done yet.

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