Premier Guitar

Album Review: Royal Southern Brotherhood - "Royal Southern Brotherhood"

July 9, 2012
Royal Southern Brotherhood
Royal Southern Brotherhood
Ruf Records

What a cool union! Two musical lineages intertwine in RSB, a new quintet headed by the mighty Cyril Neville. As a member of The Meters and Neville Brothers, the Grammy-winning vocalist and percussionist helped pioneer New Orleans funk, and at 63, he’s still a force of nature. Les Paul-wielding Devon Allman, whose dad is Gregg Allman, represents the other, equally potent bloodline.

Allman and blues-rocker Mike Zito trade fiery leads and sweaty riffs throughout the 12-song set, and their contrasting Gibson and Fender tones are a treat for anyone who has OD’d on mushy, high-gain guitar sounds. Producer Jim Gaines (SRV, Steve Miller, Santana, Albert Collins, John Lee Hooker) deserves credit for this, but ultimately it’s Allman and Zito—and their road-honed sonic sensibilities— that make this such a satisfying tonefest. Allman’s leads are rich and flutey, while Zito delivers crisp twang, shimmering chime, and biting slide. The songs are cool, the lead and harmony vocals spectacular, and the grooves are steeped in mojo, thanks to how drummer Yonrico Scott (Derek Trucks Band) and Neville lock down the one. If you like your soul with attitude, jump on the RSB bus. —Andy Ellis

Must-hear track: “All Around the World”