CD Review: Royal Southern Brotherhood ~ Don't Look Back

Scan0001Royal Southern Brotherhood
Don’t Look Back: The Muscle Shoals Sessions.
RUF Records


The third studio album Don’t Look Back is the new line-up looking forward with music that has a RSB feel with subtle differences with new guitarists following the leave-taking of Devon Allman and Mike Zito the partnership was intuitive. This is an album re-stating themselves as a super-group Don’t Look Back is a message that became perfectly clear as I sat back to listen to the album with a slight feeling of apprehension and a shiver of anticipation. The previous line-up were one of the most exciting sounds I have heard in a long time live and in the studio. There was nothing to fear the anticipation was rewarded with a sound that was Royal Southern Brotherhood with a heavier, harsher edge that hit the very nerves that connect your music ear to your inner heartbeat so a new journey has begun. Another music dynasty has been invited to the party Tyrone Vaughan son of Texas blues star Jimmie Vaughan and nephew of the great Stevie Ray Vaughan; joining him up front is Bart Walker a guitarist with panache and they make a sound that drives though the tracks. Proving that difference can be good when incorporated into a solid treble of musicians who understand the music they want to produce. Cyril Neville, the royal soul of the band with his soulful vocals and percussive skills that add tonal excitement whenever they are unleashed; Charlie Wooton with his fingers working his special magic on the bass in perfect partnership with stylish drummer Yonrico Scott.

Opening the album with a full-blown onslaught to your musical senses with I Wanna Be Free, I was once again hooked with the soul, energy and the magic that is Royal Southern Brotherhood then, now and forever.  This is an album that flows with changes of tempo and clever hooks, riffs, and licks. Don’t Look Back may be slower but full of funkiness thanks to Charlie and his bass and is a message to us all listening, decide on the new sound but do not look back and compare this is a new line-up and works just fine and dandy for me.  There is also some wonderful Hammond playing courtesy of Cyril’s nephew Ivan Neville adding a deep layer of funk making the sound so full of greasy splendour on tracks including Reach my Goal and Big Greasy.

Then there are tracks that combine the heat of Latino, the drums of Africa and the music that comes from the street and works its way through your feet, with its mandolin solo then the cry of Penzi, every child is a love child; you just have to move as the music flows.  Love is spread throughout the album; Better Half full of soul and a luscious sound as Cyril’s vocals warm and full of the sweetness of honey you feel the lurve. The theme is picked up with a sharp up beat tempo of It’s Time for Love with its funky shape that zings with emotions a positive feel good track.

The textures and fast delivery of the lyrics with guitar driving the beat Poor Boy has a new tone and shape and tips its hat to hip hop slowed down, shaped and toned with the mellow funk that is RSB.
The album is infused with soul and then there is the blues on Hard Blues and Come Hell Or High Water giving the new guitarists the platform to spar with each other trading notes that fall across the lyrics, and makes the speakers rock with bluesy delight once again creating a structure that is the essence of what makes RSB full of excitement and wonder.  Then they go and do something very different they slow it right down for the last track nailing an acoustic number Anchor Me as the notes die away you know you have listened to an album full of complexities that will just get better every time you listen to it.

An incredible album that captivates; production is tight and the songwriting showing the partnerships and depth of talent within the five-piece by Royal Southern Brotherhood, now re-grouped different with a partnership we will all soon be demanding to hear again and again the sparkling combination of Walker-Vaughan.

Bluesdoodles gives this CD NINE doodle paws out of TEN ….pawprint half inch

Cyril Neville: Vocals /Percussion
Bart Walker: Vocals/Guitar/Mandolin/Banjo
Tyrone Vaughan: Vocals/Guitar
Charlie Wooton:  Bass
Yonrico Scott:   Drums/Percussion
Ivan Neville: Hammond B3/Piano/ Clavinet
Jimmy Hall: Saxophone/Vocals
Paul Armstrong: Trumpet


  1. I Wanna Be Free
  2. Reach My Goal
  3. Don’t Look Back
  4. Hit Me Once
  5. The Big Greasy
  6. Hard Blues
  7. Better Half
  8. Penzi
  9. It’s Time For Love
  10. Bayou Baby
  11. Poor Boy
  12. They Don’t Make ‘Em Like You any more
  13. Come Hell Or High Water
  14. Anchor Me

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