Friday, February 24, 2017

Derek Davis – Revolutionary Soul

Once again, a band that I have absolutely no familiarity with has magically appeared in my inbox. You may get tired of hearing me say how excited I get when that happens – you may think I’m blowing smoke because as a busy writer and producer, there’s no way I could have time to check out all those bands, let alone get excited by the prospect.
You would be wrong, however. I’m thrilled to get new music. Nearly every day it’s my birthday when the mail comes and there are no bills but a lot of CDs. I hope that every one of those artists will be awesome and that by the end of the day, I’ll have a new favorite band to share with you.
Sometimes, things don’t work out, but for the most part I can always find something good in a new band.
The band that arrived today is just new to me, not a new band. In fact, the “band” is Derek Davis himself. Vocals, all the instruments, producing, and writing most of the songs on the album. Be forewarned, this tour-de-force, reminiscent of Todd Rundgren, is not a predominately blues band. Davis works in the arenas of soul, funk, rock, and rhythm and blues, but when you listen, you’ll hear lots of blues elements in his work.
Within two seconds into the opening track, Revolutionary Soul, you know that this is going to be a funky ride. I definitely love soul and blues, and while I’m not as well versed in funk, I have a working knowledge of it and know what I like. I’m enjoying this right off the bat, and already want to see Davis live to see how he works a crowd. This is a quick number, under three minutes, but sets the mood well.
The follow up song takes a different track. Rapture is a kinder, gentler funk. It’s got a lot of soul mixed in with the California sound rock. This is the kind of song that mixes a hard edge with a softer touch. It’s intriguing and captivating.
Next up is Valerie, not the Monkees song from the ‘60’s but the Amy Winehouse song that Davis turns into his own version. It’s a quiet song, tender, and Davis’ voice really shines on the number. He’s well versed in soul and it really shows here. Great song.
Davis starts off Think About It, with some nice crunchy guitar chops. The funk is thicker here making this a great dance tune. Sometimes funk songs reduce the lyrics to a couple of hooks, but this song has more depth to it and I found it to be very enjoyable. This could have been performed by just about any of the big names in the ‘70’s.
The horns usher in Love And Abuse, a harder edged number. Davis paints a darker picture with this song. Plus, he doesn’t stick to a tried and true formula of songwriting and that gives the song an extra air of excitement. Nobody Knows You When You’re Down And Out continues with the darker edge. The sentiments expressed here have been explored in other songs, but here the frenetic guitar and Davis’ vocals take the song into new territory. If it weren’t for one word in the lyrics, I could play this one on Time For The Blues anytime. Wild song.
Davis softens the delivery for Vicious Heart, a song of longing and loneliness. It has blues in its soul, but the music belongs to a different genre. More rhythm and blues, and the soul quotient is high. This one could get airplay on a lot of different types of station. Very nice.
Woman’s Gotta Have It starts off with some more funk – I am definitely having a ‘70’s flashback and that’s not a bad thing. Back then, you could hear a lot of different styles on the radio and in a way Derek Davis is recreating that feeling with this album. He’s mixed rock, soft rock, soul, funk, and rhythm and blues with contemporary lyrics and come up with a unique product.
He approaches King Of Fools softly, and let Davis’ vocals and the lyrics lead us in to this beautiful song. I get the feeling that this is the song where the lights go low, and the dancers hold each other tight as the band winds down near the end of the evening. Davis pours all of his emotion into his delivery.
Davis steps up the tempo for Picture Of Love. It’s another throwback rock style song, one that has a good driving beat and strong lyrics. This one has a lot of appeal and is another that could easily get air play.
The tempo is brought way down for the highly emotional and powerful Stop! Wait A Minute. Thank goodness he separated this song from King Of Fools as the one-two emotional punch may have been too much to take. It’s beautiful and devastating and the kind of song that stays with you long after it’s ended.
He ends the album with All The Roads, and return to the psychedelic funk that kicked off the album. The lyrics are some of the best on the album and the beat just drives things further. As Isaac Hayes once asked, “Can you dig it?” The answer for me is a resounding “Yes.”
Derek Davis would not have been on my radar without a little intervention. Not that I didn’t like the album, but I get buried under piles of terrific blues that I evaluate, review, and spin on Time For The Blues, so sometimes other great music gets missed.
Thank goodness there are people out there who make it their business to keep me, and other radio producers and blues bloggers up to date on great new music. If you belong to a band and have ever debated hiring a publicist, consider this my endorsement for the expense. They bring to us the music that I get to bring to you.

So, if you are craving that funk, if you have a sweetness for soul, or just want to find about a little bit more about the band and where they might be appearing next, check out their website here for all the news and music. And tell ‘em The Professor sent you!

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