This debut album from Southern Avenue is the tastiest thing out of Memphis since Gus’s Fried Chicken went national. Sounding somewhat like the Staple Singers doing an album of bluesy southern rock, this band will be huge, mark my words. Lead vocalist Tierinii Jackson is a powerhouse, from the opener “Don’t Give Up” – which is a welcome rallying cry in these times- to the smoky sass of “What I Did Do”, Jackson recalls such great blues and R+B vocalists such as Shemeika Copeland and further back, the great Koko Taylor. This band can go from sweet moments such as “It’s Gonna Be Alright” to a juke-joint throw down like “80 Miles from Memphis” without breaking a sweat.
Southern Avenue’s secret weapon is guitarist and main songwriter Ori Naftaly, who goes from great blues rock phasing to slick southern rock melodic lines (think of those classic Skynyrd songs from the early albums) such as on “No Time to Lose”. He’s one to watch in the coming years, along with the rest of the band- bassist Daniel McKee, drummer Tikyra Jackson and keyboardist Jeremy Powell. The group gets some slide guitar help on a couple of cuts from Memphis mainstay Luther Dickinson, but that’s just mo’ icing on an already rich cake.
Fans of acts ranging from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings to the Black Keys will find a lot to like here, and I bet the band is a powerhouse live. In fact, a plate of Gus’s chicken and a front-row seat to a show sounds like a great evening. Bring it, Southern Avenue!