Record Of The Week # 70

July 12, 2019

Shinyribs – Flog & Bling

Shinyribs (a.k.a Kevin Russell) is back with his inimitable slinky rock, soul and funk. Imagine KC & The Sunshine Band colliding with Dr John and Al Green. Picking up on the vibe of 2016’s epic I Got Your Medicine Russell has penned ten songs and put together an accomplished band including backing singers and brass.

The result is a varied album of tracks that make you wish you could see the band live. Russell is currently touring the record and on his ever-entertaining Twitter feed he writes that “Hoods Of Cars” is getting the best live reaction. I can see why: a horn intro à la Average White Band gives way to Russell’s vocals. This funky riff supported by some cool guitar and backing vocals is easy to imagine as a crowd favourite. In fact Russell’s Twitter feed is a thing of considerable entertainment with his original take on many things: he can switch between some erudite musing of 280 characters on human behaviour to thoughts on plastic pollution, Walter Cronkite, sport, weed killer or green chilli stew.

“Highway Of Diamonds” settles into a West Coast groove with a loping beat and some clear electric guitar picking. A delicious melody with lashings of backing vocals enthrals. This of all the tracks illustrates the competence of the band to either let rip or scale back to let the beauty of a melody shine through. The diversity of sounds is down to the arrangements and ability of the band. This more than anything else tells you are listening to a crafted and memorable release. In all this revelry, and allied to his pithy thoughts, he can pen a mean lyric:

“Laughed at and left out, sold into self doubt

Wallflowers grow wild with time

Now nights filled with jewels, city glow & vines

We’re gone forever and they’ll never find

Highway of diamonds-no one will ever notice we’re gone

Highway of diamonds here’s to the shy ones

Under the stars like rivers we run”

“Crazy Lonely” is a reflection on the human condition masked by our cell phones. Maybe this is his best vocal on the album bursting with personality; either straining or soaring to a beautiful falsetto. Less complicated Shinyribs move on from life’s trials to sing about “Savannah Chanelle” – a girl he’s set his heart on. Courtesy of the Tijuana Trainwreck Horns the trumpets toot, a saxophone blows bass notes and the organ grumbles as he and the his troupe implore her to call. She should.

Each track has a signature beat and your trying to remaining stationary is futile. This is one of the most engaging Americana Soul releases of the year.

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