Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Eddie 9V - Capricorn

If you’re going to live up to a nom de musique like Eddie 9V, it pays to have a bit of chutzpah. And listening to Capricorn, it’s crystal clear that said Eddie – born Brooks Kelly - ain’t in need of any booster shots of charisma.
When opening track ‘Beg, Borrow And Steal’ springs out of the speakers, brightly soulful horns and snapping snare giving way to a bass-popping, finger-snapping groove, it makes for a pretty darned engaging start. But things really take off when Eddie’s personality-laden, near-squawking vocal bursts into earshot, like a new buddy taking you by the elbow and hurrying you along to
Eddie 9V - no retreat baby, no surrender!
catch the vibrant chorus waiting just down the road.  He adds a couple of nifty little guitar breaks along the way for good measure, and alto sax man Noah Sills steps forward to play around with the melody to add some extra seasoning.  This, I’m thinking, sounds good.
And that’s the review right there, really.  Capricorn is a collection of songs that thwacks into the bullseye. It's delivered in style, and it’ll loosen your lumbago and make you wish you had a dance floor and a partner at your immediate disposal.  But let’s give you a bit more info to chew on, huh?
The album takes its name from the Capricorn Records studio in Macon, Georgia where it was recorded.  But while Capricorn Records is possibly most strongly associated with the Allman Brothers, the soul vibe here is more akin to that of Macon’s most famous son, Otis Redding.  But judicious helpings of young Eddie’s blues sensibilities are folded into the mix too.
Slide guitar offers a signature refrain and a closing solo amid the horn punctuation of the swampy, offbeat ‘Yella Alligator’, which serves up another simple but damn good hook, the 9V fella singing about the bayou but sounding very like a creature of the streets.  ‘It’s Going Down’ has a woozy, bluesy feel, mucho relaxed and laid back, with flutterings of flute and pinging gutiar adding a summery flavour.  But ‘Down Along The Cove’ is brisker blues-rooted fare, peppered with Eddie’s slide guitar alternating conversationally with his vocal, until the slide has its moment on a gritty but playful solo, followed by a blast of rockin’ piano from Chad Mason.  The avowed influence of Sean Costello, who was raised in 9V’s home town of Atlanta, is evident here and elsewhere.
But songs like ‘Bout To Make Me Leave Home’ are delicious regardless of the blues quotient involved.  “We're trackin’ in history now,” Eddie drawls, and then they kick off a funky, rhythmic groove, simple and loose but fit to turn you to rubber, while the main man yelps out his frustrations.  There’s a classic soul vibe to the all-too-brief ‘How Long’, which comes buttered in Fender Rhodes piano and organ from Mason, with a sizzling little guitar solo as the cherry on top.  And ‘Tryin’ To Get By’ is another meltingly good song, perfectly delivered, bouncing along till it reaches a swooning pre-chorus to tee up its sunny, good-time refrain.  The multi-instrumentalist 9V is responsible for both the bass and drums here, and locks them into the pocket in swaying fashion.
There are more contemplative moments too, such as ‘Missouri’ (that's as in "Misery"), with its slinky bass and tapping drums.  And they cap off proceedings with the lazily shuffling, hypnotic groove of the dreamy ‘I’m Lonely’.  Once again, the instrumentation is woven together perfectly – bass, drums, keys, horns, guitar, everything – while Eddie, Mr Personality to the end, crafts another distinctive, soul-steeped vocal.
Capricorn is just the ticket to kick off the year.  This is a stylish, sassy, individual album, well-conceived, and well captured by Eddie 9V’s brother Lane Kelly in the producer’s chair.  Eddie 9V is the real deal – don’t say you haven’t been told!
 
Capricorn is released by Ruf Records on 20 January.

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