IVAN NEVILLE is a New Orleans music legend. He’s linked to two of the most influential groups that New Orleans has ever produced… the Meters and the Neville Brothers. But the singer and multi-instrumentalist also fronted his own band, Dumpstaphunk and has worked solo with a quartet of acclaimed long players under his belt. The last release, ‘Scrape’, though, was back in 2004, so it’s with delight that we can report that Ivan has just released a new album, ‘Touch My Soul’.
Sonically, the 10 tracker is New Orleans through and through. Could it be anything else? Indeed Ivan calls the album “a love letter to the Crescent City”, so consequently the focus cut is ‘Greatest Place On Earth’ – an authentic slice of New Orleans street corner soul with incisive rhythms, booting horn parts, and vocal pyrotechnics. It has Mardi Gras stamped all over it. It features Trombone Shorty along with Preservation Hall Jazz bandleaders Ben Jaffe and Charlie Gabriel. They’re not the only guests on the album. Also featured are Aaron Neville, Bonnie Raitt, Michael McDonald, David Shaw, Cyril Neville and Doyle Bramhall II.
We’re told that Ivan constructed ‘Touch My Soul’ around piano pieces that he composed in the portrait photograph-filled “sun room” in his house in Uptown New Orleans. “The drum loops were inspired by the sounds I heard on Sly Stone’s Fresh album, which was a big influence on me as a teen.”
The music menu on ‘Touch My Soul’ is varied. Ivan says: “not unlike a good bowl of homemade gumbo”. So for instance, as we said, ‘Greatest Place On Earth’ is home grown New Orleans, ‘Dance Music Love’ is fierce funk (feel the Sly Stone influence here) while contextually opposite is the meditative piano instrumental ‘Beautiful Tears’. Purists might baulk at some of the electronic instrumentation as on ‘This Must Be The Place’ and ‘Might Last A Lifetime’ but there’s no doubting the soul and commitment in Ivan’s delivery . He says: “When I think about the way music has touched my soul and all the songs that became special moments in my life, I become very emotional. Music should touch your soul. I hope this record and this music touches someone’s soul.”
IVAN NEVILLE: Touch My Soul .. out now via Mascot Label Group / The Funk Garage.