The other day during one of my many nostalgic musical moments, I ran through my vinyl record collection and came across albums by groups like The O’Jays, The Spinners, Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, The Temptations, The Stylistics, The Delfonics, The Four Tops, The Isley Brothers. Most of these brothers have run out of time, others, like part of the Isley Brothers, though still highly respectable, have run out of ideas. A listen to last year’s “Power Of Peace” collaboration with Santana, more or less confirms this. It was kind of sad thinking that those fantastic American soul groups are very much a thing of the past. Then I remembered reviewing a single called “I Want More” by the group Just Right Band, only a few months ago. Longtime friends and veterans of the community, the group is made up of lead singer Michael Veal aka Ve’ Al, Ronald “Shammika” Ernest (guitar, vocals), John “Petoe” Ragas (bass guitar, vocals), Kurt Brunus (keyboards, vocals, trumpet), Warner Williams (keyboards) and Brennan Williams (drums, vocals).
Luckily for me I discovered that the Just Right Band have a full-length 11 track album out right now, entitled, none other than – “I Want More”. This recording finds the group furthering their highly emotive brand of R&B, smooth jazz and Southern soul to great effect. This is such a great collection of music. Some of the songs are romantic, while most are very lushly orchestrated with extremely tasteful arrangements.
It’s actually difficult for me to listen to just one song off this collection without feeling the need to go through at least six to eight tracks which have become my personal favorites; it just sets such a peaceful loving mood. Listening to these stellar fellas croon will transport you back to a time when slow dancing in the basement, at an all-night block party was the thing.
And that feeling will overcome you right from the second track, “Now and Then” (feat. Ve Al), where Ve’ Al’s rich tenor will make your heart miss a beat. Of course not before you’ve grooved to the smooth sounds of the opening title track, “I Want More” (feat. Ve Al). Moving ahead the record just gets groovier and lusher.
Catch the sweet falsetto on “Suddenly” (feat. Ve Al), along with the stabbing horns, and shimmering guitar strums. Michael Veal’s voice sounds like he is from another world, and when he leans into “It’s Gotta Be Love” (feat. Ve Al), it’s just so hard to resist. The harmonies are never far behind, making sure Ve Al has a comfortable cushion backing him up.
“For the Rest of My Life” (feat. Ve Al & Eunice Green) is one of those favorites I’ve been telling about. Listening to this song, my mind slips back to a track by Luther Vandross and Dionne Warwick, entitled “How Many Times Can We say Goodbye.” I’m talking tone, technique and soul in a duet, and Ve Al & Eunice Green are impressive to say the least.
If you dig those Earth Wind and Fire vocal and brass flourishes, done in a slower, smoother style then “Be With You” (feat. Ve Al & Flyte) is a track you’ll love. But this is an incredible collection that will make you sing, weep, smile, and fall in love all over again. I found all of those elements in “Baby’s Love” (feat. Ve Al) and “For the Rest of My Life” (feat. Ve Al).
They are all great songs though, with very sincere heartfelt vocals that will make your spine tingle and musical arrangements that are perfectly executed. Both the song subject matter and the range in which these songs are sung just give me a vibe similar to those old soulful classics by the legends of our time, which of course is a great thing.
However the Just Right Band are not being derivative in any clichéd way. This is how this music was meant to sound, and this is exactly how it should sound, today, as well as tomorrow. Otherwise it would lose its intrinsic beauty and historic legacy, and become something totally different, something which already inundates the radio today.
If you love great of R&B, smooth jazz and Southern soul music then this collection, out via Swamp Island Records, is well worth having, it will bring you so much joy listening to this music. This is timeless stuff here.