TROMBONE SHORTY; Lifted (Blue Note)

Over the last few years TROMBONE SHORTY (Troy Andrews) has established himself as something of New Orleans music scene icon. His upward trajectory (like most musicians) stalled a little during the pandemic. Indeed even before the onset of Covid we’d been expecting some new music from him – but to no avail. Well, the wait for that new music is almost over as Mr A is gearing up to release this album, ‘Lifted’, on April 29th.   

It’s actually  the New Orleans musician’s first album in five years and,, produced by Chris Seefried, it was signalled by the release of the single, ‘Come Back’ in February. The cut was/is big and busy, feisty and funky. Lyrically the song is a lovelorn plea delivered, in places, in a fragile Curtis Mayfield-esque vocal. It’s a lovely slice of tough, contemporary soul and it’s the track that gets ‘Lifted’ off to a flying start!

Across the LP’s 10 tracks expect plenty of variety – plenty more soul, but lashings of funk, traditional New Orleans flavours, a dose or two of rock and even a sprinkle of psychedelia. If you’re a funkateer you might want to home in on the powerful ‘Might Not Make It Home’ while for a more 21st take on the genre try the Outkast flavoured frantic ‘Miss Beautiful’. Less frantic is the soul-flavoured ‘Forgiveness’. Some soul buffs might baulk at the rocky overtones on cuts like ‘I’m Standing Here’ (wild guitar from Gary Clark Jr ) and the album’s title track but ‘Everybody In The World’ with, input from The New Breed Brass band, taps into Shorty’s Crescent City roots.

The thing that gives this diverse album it’s unity (apart from the trombone work) is the energy and passion of the musicians. ‘Lifted’ has an almost live vibe. Shorty says: “I think Lifted is the closest we’ve ever gotten to bottling up the live show and putting it on a record. This time around I told everybody to really cut loose, to perform like they were onstage at a festival.”

The album, by the way, is dedicated to Troy’s mother, Lois Nelson Andrews who passed recently. He says “She passed recently, but she continued to inspire me right up until she transitioned, and that’s why I put a picture of her holding me up at a second line on the cover of this album. She lifted me up my whole life.”

(BB) 4/5