May 22, 2024

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CD review: The Mighty Soul Drivers – I’ll Carry You Home 2022: Video, CD cover

This New England soul band has worked for a decade to perfect their sound. Featuring veteran musicians, these guys are superb. Bob Orsi fronts the band and plays some rhythm guitar; he’s a solid singer with a voice that beautifully blends passion and power.

River City Slim (Peter Rost) handles the drums, Larry Wiley is on lead guitar, Tony Delisio is on bass, Steve Donovan plays keys, John Smayda is on the saxes, and Neil Tint is on trumpet and flugelhorn. Paul Gabriel delivers guitar solos on a couple of cuts as  does Michael St. George on another one. Slim and Orsi put this band together and they are delivering a fine second album for us all to savor.

They begin with a cool cover of “Can’t Get Next to You,” a slow and funky cover of this Temptations classic. Great vocals, backing vocals, guitar and a a deep groove make this cut special. Next is the title track, a pretty and slow blues ballad. Orsi’s vocals, backing vocals and Tint’s horn sell this one. “Party By The Tower” picks up the pace as the band sets a nice groove and Orsi swings through the lead. More great backing vocals on this one, too, and there’s also a nice sax and guitar solo.” A Little Bit of That” follows, a mid tempo piece with nice organ and horns that set the table for Orsi to shine.

Solomon Burke’s “Cry To Me” gets a cool cover by Orsi and the Soul drivers along with Denise Powell who helps on the vocals. They sing with depth and emotion and the horns help this be a winner. Next is “I Wouldn’t Treat A Dog,” a great Bobby Blue Bland tune that the band adapts to their sound. It’s a cool rendition and they make it their own. Nice guitar work here, too. “Cold, Cold Night” is a slick original that gets the body moving. Big guitar solo here (Gabriel) and a nice organ solo adds to the mix and sweetly and takes us home. “Tell Daddy” is up next, a cover of Clarence Carter’s hit song. Orsi again shines vocally; the extended tenor sax solo is really excellent here, too, lasting for almost the entire second half of the song.

A trio of original cuts concludes the album. “Parking Lot Blues” is a nice, soulful, slow blues where Denise Powell backs Orsi again. “Piece of My Pride” is a bouncy swinging cut with more sublime vocals, sax and extended piano work; well done!. They finish up with “Dressed to Kill,” a funky tune with a nice groove.  Smayda again kills it on sax and Orsi and the band deliver a final performance leaving the listener wanting for more.

This is my first exposure to these guys but it won’t be my last. These guys are a great band; a fine set of musicians who can funky it up with anyone. Seven new cuts and four fine covers make for an outstanding sophomore release. I really enjoyed this album as will anyone looking for great, new soul blues to savor! I hope to have an opportunity to catch these guys live soon!

The core band is the regular seven-piece band that you would hear if you came to one of our shows. Background vocals on some of the tunes were done by a group that we met when working live shows with Betty Harris — they were her background singers, so when we needed a vocal group we knew who to call. Additional backup vocals were added by Denise Powell who is a nationally known singer based in CT who has worked  with our engineer and co-producer Vic Steffens on other projects. Vic suggested we bring her in; he was right. New England Music Hall Of Fame member guitarist Paul Gabriel is an old friend that we asked to contribute a different flavor on a couple of tracks.  Guitarist Michael St. George is my partner in the Slim & St. George duo. I played him a rough mix of my tune ‘Parking Lot Blues’ asking for his thoughts and he immediately started singing a guitar part. So I suggested he come by the studio the next day and add a track, which made all the difference for that tune,- an interview with me said River City Slim.

In my opinion, the best music, no matter the style or genre encompasses a particular mix of intellect and emotion, soul, if you will. Some music is more intellectual while other types of music are more emotional. It really depends on the intent of the artist. That said, when it comes to Blues and Soul, no matter how emotional the delivery, the best music always has a definite element of intelligence. The magic is how much of that the artist wants you to be aware of any of it. Often, after I’m deeply moved by any given performance, when I either listen again or recall a live performance, I start to notice the intelligence that goes into creating that performance. I try to keep that in mind for myself,- an interview said Bob Orsi.

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