Texan songstress Charlie Faye has enjoyed a varied career. She made her solo recording debut back in 2009 with ‘Wilson St.’ which was followed in 2011 by ‘Travels With Charlie Faye’. Both had a distinct indie pop sound with a whiff of Americana. However, Ms Faye soon changed musical direction. She’d always said that the 60s were her favourite musical era – a time when pop was fun, catchy and innocent but, when the occasion demanded, could still deliver a hefty, hard-hitting message. Determined to bring back the fun and deliver the occasional message, Charlie found like-minded spirits in Betty Soo and Akina Adderly and so Charlie Faye and they Fayettes were born – a trio determined to bring back the classic girl group sound of the 60s.
Their 2016 eponymous album lived up to their mission statement and was moderately well-received. and now the girls are back with a new 12 tracker which carries on where that first album left off. In between releases the Fayettes and their team have clearly been listening long and hard to all kinds of 60s pop ‘cos on almost every track here, you can hear a distinct reference point. It’s obvious from the start. The opener, ‘1, 2, 3, 4′ is clearly based on the work of Holland-Dozier-Holland’, coming in on a loping ‘Heatwave’ drum intro. Sadly though the rest of the song doesn’t live up to what that promises. The whole thing is just a little too cute and poppy . Things get better with the next track… ‘I Don’t Need No Baby’…. a clever take on the Phil Spector/Ronettes sound. It’s so close to that sound that if I was the writer of ‘Be My Baby’ I’d be consulting a plagiarism lawyer!
Elsewhere ‘Baby We’ll Be OK’ offers more of the Spector Wall Of Sound, ‘Tonight’s The Night’ channels a classic doo-wop sound, ‘Say Those Words’ rides in on a mighty Duane Eddy twanging guitar (c’mon you do remember Duane Eddy?) while the title cut is a Brill Building pastiche. The most soulful outing is ‘Riding High’. Embellished with Memphis horns, it’s an album highlight but it’s not soul as we know and love it. Charlie Faye delivers but her vocals are a little too light – like we said up top, “cute”. But given the trio’s mission statement, there’s nothing wrong with that. ‘The Whole Shebang’… simple, uncluttered, undemanding, retro pop.