Daddy B. Nice's #47 ranked Southern Soul Artist
Composed by Avail Hollywood
January 24, 2015
See Daddy B. Nice's NEW CD REVIEW OF AVAIL HOLLYWOOD'S REHAB!
January 18, 2015: NEW ALBUM ALERT!
Sample/Buy Avail Hollywood's REHAB at CD Baby.
INCLUDED IN THE CD....Listen to Avail Hollywood singing "Rehab Ain't Working" on YouTube.
Listen to Avail Hollywood singing "Fatal Attraction" on YouTube.
Listen to Avail Hollywood singing "Creole Shuffle" on YouTube.
Listen to Avail Hollywood singing "Real Love" on YouTube.
Scroll down to "Tidbits" below for the latest updates on Avail Hollywood.
To automatically link to Avail Hollywood's charted singles, awards, CD's and other citations on the website, go to "Hollywood, Avail" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
Daddy B. Nice's Original Critique:
Avail Hollywood fits the stereotype of the musician on the make. That's what happens when the hype gets a little too far ahead of the music. However, when Bigg Robb, one of Avail Hollywood's mentors, first came on the scene, he too was perceived to have a well-oiled talent for self-promotion.
Robb's first couple of albums didn't have a lot to do with Southern Soul music, but Bigg Robb's drive and determination, not to mention his willingness to absorb and change his musical perspective, catapulted him into the front ranks of Southern Soul.
Avail Hollywood is very much in the same, strong mold. Faced with daunting criticism from some quarters for his uneven debut album, which in his typically aggressive style he called The Young Gunn Of Southern Soul, Hollywood didn't shrink into the woodwork. There was no quit in him.
Less than a year later, he came back with an even stronger sophomore album--Drinking Again--that not only marked a sizable leap forward in material and execution but seized the spotlight with a surprisingly mature and soulful bid for a Southern Soul classic: "Drinking Again."
"Drinking Again" has few antecedents in Southern Soul or any other genre. The slow, measured tempo marks it as a ballad. The strong, clear bass line and slick, shimmering arrangement suggest a pedigree in new age jazz or pop-slash-funk.
But the intangibles of the song signify that Avail Hollywood has gone to a well deeper and more pristine than any of the mainstream genres of the last few decades. Indeed, the one song that "Drinking Again" resembles more than any other is Ms. Jody's priceless and equally idiosyncratic ballad, "Your Dog Is Killing My Cat," which also came out of nowhere while hitting the bullseye of authentic Southern Soul.
Listen to Avail Hollywood singing "Drinking Again" on YouTube while you read.
"I've been in this club
And I said I wasn't
Going to be drinking.
Now I'm stumbling
All over this bar
With a dumb look on my face."
The opening stanzas of Drinking Again" constitute one of the most original beginnings by any composer in contemporary soul music. There's no self-promotion here. And there's no fronting either, even of the subtle kind. This is a singer intent on getting to the heart of the matter.
The second stanza is even better, and even more defining.
"That's how it is
When you're drinking
A lot of Hennessy.
Say you lost a girl,
Or say you lost your man."
The Hennessy-drinking is one of the few salient Southern Soul signposts. But the greater impact of the couplet is to extend the autobiographical and confessional thrust of the lyrics. The stage is set quickly, and already "Drinking Again" is more grounded, more focused and impactful than dozens of Southern Soul songs on the same topic.
Then comes the third stanza, which anyone who listens to the song for the first time remembers as the song's distinguishing theme. The Alcholics Anonymous reference jumps out from the rest of the words:
"And now you're in rehab,
Like 'Hi, my name is Hollywood,
And I'm an alcholic.'
You got me drinking again."
Compare, for instance, the lyrics to Avail Hollywood's "Drinking Again" to T. K. Soul's "Rehab." The latter is a Southern Soul mainstay, a former Daddy B. Nice # 1 Southern Soul Single of the year. As good as it is, though, T. K. Soul's lyrics have nowhere near the searing luminosity of Hollywood's "Drinking Again."
As a vocalist, Avail Hollywood already has a set of tools in his toolbox that would be the envy of any "young gun" starting out in contemporary R&B. His voice-over at the beginning of "Drinking Again" is chitlin' circuit-certified.
His distinctive tenor is instantly identifiable, not quite like anyone else on the scene--lyrical, melodic, crystal-clear. When he harmonizes with himself, the results are impressive. He can extend notes with the best technical singers, yet slur into a speaking voice at the most apt moments.
His producing skills are also substantial. The echoing effect at the end of key phrases is an important detail. The programming isn't "live"--the only thing that could make the song better--but the tinkling, up-and-down runs of the keyboard and the extensive horn charts are as full and polished as you'll hear on the majority of Southern Soul Singles.
Finally, the song is compressed. Hollywood avoids the too-common pitfall of dragging the song through an extended five minute length. He keeps it short and sweet, and--like all catchy music--"Drinking Again" flies by, begging to be played again.
Sample or Buy Avail Hollywood MP3's on I-Tunes.
--Daddy B. Nice
About Avail Hollywood
Christopher Estell, aka Avail Hollywood, was born July 24, 1983 in Texarkana, Texas. His father, Collins Estell, was a professional guitarist (R&B and gospel), and two sisters, Loraine and Donna, were gospel singers.
Song's Transcendent Moment
"And now you're in rehab,
AVAIL HOLLYWOOD: Drinking Again (Nlightn) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.Avail Hollywood's second CD, Drinking Again, is a huge step forward. Gone are the amateurish hiphop conventions, shaky synth-enhanced vocals and immature hype of his debut disc (2010).
Two things are instantly clear listening to the disc's first track, "One Man's Trash." Hollywood's ambition and determination are still in full force, but now they're channeled through a disciplined familiarity with the Southern Soul idiom.
However, Hollywood makes a crucial mistake in starting off the CD with a song derived almost entirely from Jeff Floyd's "Lock My Door," which itself was modeled on Floyd's signature hit, "I Found Love (On A Lonely Highway)." Even the horn arrangement on Avail's "One Man's Trash" reiterates "Lock My Door."
If the musical power surpassed the Jeff Floyd original, Hollywood might have succeeded. Unfortunately, Jeff Floyd's "Lock My Door" will surface in the minds of most listeners versed in contemporary Southern Soul.
But if its derivation sabotages "One Man's Trash," "Drinking Again"--the album's second and title track--more than compensates. Original, with a unique arrangement and lead vocal, "Drinking Again" should have already been a hit and still may become one.
Overshadowed by Mel Waiter's "When You Get Drunk," which was released at the same time earlier this year, Hollywood's ballad "Drinking Again" actually trumps the Waiters' song in emotional power.
Here's an excerpt from--
Daddy B. Nice's Top 10 "BREAKING" Southern Soul Singles Review For. . .
1. "Drinking Again"------------Avail Hollywood
One of two anti-drinking songs to debut in a February overflowing with new music. The other is Mel Waiters' "When You Get Drunk." Together, they make nice bookends around a subject that seldom gets discussed in Southern Soul.
Avail Hollywood's outing is the more compelling because it memorializes a young musician blossoming into a true artist, marshalling an intensity and focus he hadn't quite mastered on his debut, The Young Gunn Of Southern Soul, reviewed here last year.
All great music traces back to life moments of deep pain, and "Drinking Again" qualifies. The opening lines make it clear and unambiguous:
"I've been in this club
And I said I wasn't gonna be drinking.
Now I'm stumbling over to this bar
With a dumb look on my face.
That's how it is
When you're drinking a lot of Hennessey,
Say you lost your girl,
Or say you lost your man.
And now you're in rehab,
Like 'Hi, my name is Hollywood.
And I'm an alcoholic.'"
The reference to AA is especially telling and poignant. Meanwhile, the reservoir of emotion which gives the song so much substance is perfectly channeled through a sophisticated musical treatment that's as effortless as a conversation in "real life."
"Booty Dance," with a rhythm track based loosely on Nathaniel Kimble's "Can You Bag It Up," showcases the same Southern Soul ambience and overall professionalism as the opening tracks.
Avail Hollywood gives belated kudos to Jeff Floyd in this uptempo jam, while also nodding to:
"Steve Perry's song
Had them doing the 'Booty Roll.'
They did the 'Zydeco'
with T.K. Soul."
And. . .
Was in the house that night.
Ms. Jody was there,
The kind of girls I like."
The non-Southern Soul audience may frown on such in-bred musical references, but most true Southern Soul fans will enjoy the associations. Meanwhile, the Avail's slippery vocal fillips and peppercorn percussion keep things interesting.
By the time "Domestic Love" queues up, you may be wondering what else Avail can show in the line of Southern Soul credentials. Again, Avail surprises, slowing down the tempo with a mid-tempo ballad that perfectly touches Southern Soul sweet spot.
The comforting grooves of "The Weekend" and "Tribute To Tyrone" (based on Tyrone Davis's "Can I Change My Mind") are the best of the CD's remaining tracks. (The Carl Marshall-influenced "Forever and Always" is only slightly less appealing.)
By this time, you may be wondering why, after so many more albums under their belt, hiphop-influenced artists like Simeo and Cupid have so resolutely refused to absorb the Southern Soul ambience Avail here delivers with such freshness and ease.
In his humility, his willingness to learn, and his ability to graft the Southern Soul sound onto his unique producing capabilities, Avail follows the successful example of Bigg Robb. Drinking Again is tuneful, seamless and pleasant to the ear.
--Daddy B. Nice
Bargain-Priced Drinking Again CD, MP3's
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