I was impressed by Southern Avenue's eponymously titled debut album that appeared on Stax a couple of years ago. This follow-up is on Concord Records itself. The core of the band remains the same: Memphis-born, church-bred sisters Tierinii and Tikyra Jackson, respectively a soulful, charismatic singer and a subtle, husky drummer; guitarist Ori Naftaly, an Israeli-born blues disciple; and the band's newest addition, keyboardist Jeremy Powell, an early alumnus of Stax's legendary music academy. Gage Markey is the bassist on this album but on this album of originals is not identified as a member of the band. Among others heard here are Art Edmaiston on saxophones and Mark Franklin on brass, William Bell guesting on a vocal, and CD producer Johnny Black on various keyboards.
The band sounds as powerful as on the prior recording. The title track opens this recording with Tierinii passionately delivering the song's message of even when thinks hot rock bottom, "You get what you put out, You gotta keep on." It is a superb track with the band and horns adding to the heat, while Naftaly adds a tight, cutting solo that almost matches the impassioned vocal. Then there is the punchy backing of "Whiskey Love," about dealing with a broken relationship and how she needs a cup. Tierinii is a superb singer who sings with clarity, nuance, and power. "Savior" is another display of her mastery of vocal dynamics as she goes from a virtual whisper to a scream, but never off-pitch, and letting the intensity develop naturally as opposed to being forced.
There is the bluesy feel of "The Tea I Sip," and the classic soul flavor of "Lucky." In a similar classic soul vein is "Too Good For You," where she tells her would be lover, "You can't do for me, Anything that I can't do … Be a whole lot better off without you." The interplay between keyboards and guitarist Naftaly also is worthy of note. Another message song "We Are Not So Different," has choice lyrics "Regardless of whose privileged we all got rights, … To ignore our cries over bloodshed, is just as low as the man." It has another fiery vocal with a smoldering, intense backing. William Bell joins Tierinii for another message song, "We Got the Music," as they sing "if you don't look like me, If you don't talk like me, That's alright, We've got the music … ," set against a classic Memphis sound backing. Then there is a celebration of sisterly love in "She Gets Me High" where Tierinii's girlfriend helps her unwind at times with her magical touch, with a potent blues-rock guitar break
The closing number, "We're Gonna Make It," is not the Little Milton song but a slow song of dealing with tough times and even though things may seem low, "Just don't let go, We're gonna make it." Again with a heartfelt vocal, firm and supple backing and a first-rate blues guitar solo to conclude another superb CD by Southern Avenue.
I received a review copy from a publicist. Here is the official video for the title track.