RaShad The Blues Kid (New CD Review!)
Daddy B. Nice's #133 ranked Southern Soul Artist
RaShad The Blues Kid (New CD Review!)
Originally posted in Daddy B. Nice's CD Reviews.
Ra'Shad The Blues Kid: Southern Side Of Soul (RaShad The Blues Kid) Four Stars **** Distinguished effort. Should please old fans and gain new. And....Ra'Shad The Blues Kid: Bluz Me (RaShad The Blues Kid) Three Stars *** Solid. The artist's fans will enjoy.These two newly-released collections, with a combined total of 26 tracks, are the latest music from Laurel, Mississippi's Ra'Shad The Blues Kid, whose first southern soul single, "Shake It," debuted in 2016 and whose first long-play set, Country Soul, was published in 2017. Southern Side Of Soul, with fifteen songs, concentrates on southern soul, while Bluz Me, with eleven songs, focuses on blues.
The first couple of times I listened to Southern Side Of Soul, I was in seventh heaven, transported by the authenticity and originality of the music. Ra'Shad was filling a gap in southern soul music I wasn't even aware I had been missing: someone to replace the sounds of yesteryear artists like Billy "Soul" Bonds, Luther Lackey, Lee "Shot" Williams and Frank Mendenhall. Ra'Shad isn't quite on their level yet---his vocals and production still need improvement---but in songs like "Ride It," "Say Yea," "Let Me Love You" and "One Room," he furnishes the most enticing hope this side of young artist Arthur Young (of "Funky Forty" fame) of filling that sweet, humble, old-school southern soul niche that is increasingly difficult to find in today's market.
Apparently, few fans agree or are aware of him. Ra'Shad's YouTube numbers remain appallingly low, whether because fans are turned off by the lack of technique or because they simply won't register Ra'Shad on their radar until he scores a genuine hit single (like Young with "Funky Forty"). Ironically, The Blues Kid's finest single to date, "Singing The Blues," released in January of this year and charting at #4 in March, is a no-show on Southern Side Of Soul.
It's true that as a vocalist Rashad leaves much to be desired. There are hints here and there of something special, but power, clarity and projection---the basic tools of a gospel-bred southern soul singer---are not there, at least not yet. And the production also gets barely adequate marks, although the gospel backgrounds on some of the verses and choruses are a lovely tease (check out "Close To Me" and "Let Me Love You"), promising future delights if and when they're put into more streamlined and spectacular arrangements.
But Ra'Shad has a marvelous writing gift and more than passing familiarity with blues guitar, and with these two tools he ceaselessly beats the musical bushes, uncovering one gem after another of old-school style, southern soul melodies. His songwriting is a treasure trove, turning heads among his peers, and on certain songs on Southern Side Of Soul he comes enticingly close to putting it all together. Listen to his ladies' anthem, "Say Yea," and you can imagine the crowd waving their hands in the air, swaying to the lullabye-like tempo. Listen to the smoking drums and bass and the loose yet tenacious vocal on "Ride It" and there is no doubt this jam could fill the dance floor. "It's Over" and "That's What You Are" are deserving as well in spite of the variable execution.
Turning to his other just-released album, Bluz Me, the dynamic is very different. Here, perhaps due to the fact that he's been singing blues since his teens, Ra'Shad delivers more powerful and confident vocals and more precise and technically-compelling instrumental tracks, dominated by his bluesy lead guitar. Look no further than the crystal-clear, well-sung "Bad Feeling". "Ain't No Sunshine" is just as crisp and panoramic, with an assertive vocal and stand-up guitar. So on his blues album the strengths and flaws are reversed. The writing consists of covers and well-tread blues riffs (in other words, not much to write home about) while the vocals and production are outstanding.
After listening to Bluz Me I went back to Southern Side Of Soul and listened again to the instrumental tracks. Sure enough, the instrumentation has no guitar to speak of, meaning that to Ra'Shad the difference between the blues and southern soul is the lead guitar. If it's "southern soul," use keyboards, etc., if it's "blues" use guitar. This is an arbitrary and personal dichotomy. There is no reason Ra'Shad couldn't and shouldn't use his prime instrument---the guitar---on his southern soul songs, along with the more assured and assertive vocals the guitar seems to bring out in him. "Let Me Love You" from Southern Side Of Soul is proof of this: the guitar-dominant production fairly jumps off the music player. If Ra'Shad puts his two strengths together, he just might find that elusive audience.
--Daddy B. Nice
August 29, 2021:
NEW ALBUM ALERT!Buy Ra'Shad The Blues Kid's new THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF SOUL at Apple.
THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF SOUL:Let's Party
Back It up Remix (feat Stevie J Blues)
Close to Me
Let Me Love You
Shot of Blues
Lay Your Love
That's What You Are
Good to You
Need Love (feat. Ju Evans & Napoleon Demps)
Daddy B. Nice notes:
I've come down to earth as I get into the middle of this new album by Ra'Shad, but I was in seventh heaven the first few tracks (on first impression, you understand). I was transported by the authenticity and originality of the music. It was as if Ra'Shad was miraculously filling this gap in southern soul music I was until that moment unaware existed. Someone to replace the sound of the Billy "Soul" Bonds, the Lee "Shot" Williams, the David Brinstons, the Marvin Seases of the world. Recently it appeaed that mantel might fall to Arthur Young's shoulders, but it hasn't worked out easily for him either.
In any case, The Blues Kid may have made an error in releasing two albums at the same time. If the second, Bluz Me, is as dense and wide-ranging as THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF SOUL, I don't know how even the most avid fans can get to that much music with the right appreciation. Southern Side Of Soul has fifteen full-bodied tracks, a double album in itself, and as I continue to listen I realize there are tunes in this collection that qualify as mere exercises. But I also know two of the tunes near the end bring the set up back up to rousing levels. One of them, "Ride It," occasioned this commentary in DBN's Top 10 Singles:
4. "Ride It" ----- Ra'Shad The Blues Kid
I see where Malaco has now signed Mr. Sipp in its Ahab-like quest to appeal to the white blues market. Nothing against Mr. Sipp, but Malaco tried the same thing with Grady Champion and Queen Emily, and where are they now? Meanwhile, just up the road, the best young blues singer in the area is rocking in anonymity with great songs, evocative vocals and scorching lead guitar.
And besides "Ride It" and "Say Yea" (a back-and-forth with women), I've already encountered another appealing song featuring Ju Evans and Napoleon Demp, the ballad "Needs Love". I heard some superb Stevie J (he lifts all boats) and some harmonizing, gospel-style backgrounds and choruses that I'm drawn to like a kitten to catnip.
Looking at the meager YouTube views, Ra'Shad's talents have not reached the audience. I will be concentrating on THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF SOUL for the time being---that will be more than enough for me---and examining those early-in-the-set songs that blew me away the first time I heard them. If Ra'Shad truly deserves more supporters, it'll be your Daddy B Nice's duty to point him to the songs people are crying to hear.
Listen to all the songs from Ra'Shad's THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF SOUL on YouTube.
Buy Ra'Shad The Blues Kid's new THE SOUTHERN SIDE OF SOUL at Apple.
Originally Posted At Daddy B. Nice's NEW CD REVIEWS:
November 12, 2017:
RA'SHAD (THE BLUES KID): Country Soul (Mondo Tunes) Three Stars *** Solid Debut By A New Southern Soul Artist.COUNTRY SOUL is the first album by a young artist from Laurel, Mississippi. Fans of "grown folks, good-times" sounds in the vein of Lomax's "Swing It" (or prior to that Mel Waiter's "Swing Out Song") may want to check him out. A nominee for Best Southern Soul Debut Artist of 2016, singer/songwriter Ra'Shad McGill, recording as Ra'Shad The Blues Kid, first struck pay dirt with the mid-tempo "Shake It".
Listen to Ra'Shad singing "Shake It" on YouTube.
Charting at SouthernSoulRnB in August '16, the gently-rocking dance tune reminded your Daddy B. Nice of vintage Lee "Shot" Williams in its singer's casual singing style and sensual intimacy. Ra'Shad returned to the charts in September '17, coinciding with the album release, with "Go Get It," a duet with L.J. Echols.
Listen to Ra'Shad and L.J. singing "Go Get It" on YouTube.
Your Daddy B. Nice praised the "great, chunky rhythm track--almost like listening to reggae's archetypal rhythm section of Sly & Robbie". But while giving credit for the instrumentation to Echols, the unpretentious pleasure generated by the melody and vocal were all Ra'Shad's.
Meanwhile, Ra'Shad wasted no time, parlaying his debut single ("Shake It") into all-important touring dates and networking with other like-minded musicians. One such joint effort is "You're All That I Need," a duet with Miss Portia from her upcoming debut album, All In My Feelings.
More at home, Ra'Shad teams with Napoleon Demps on the zydeco-tinged "Saddle Up," a hit-worthy track from COUNTRY SOUL with the goods to match if not surpass the popularity of "Shake It".
Watch the official video of Ra'Shad and Napoleon singing "Saddle Up" on YouTube.
Ra'Shad was also featured on a song from Napoleon's debut album from last year, the compilation Southern Soul, Vol. 1.
Listen to Ra'Shad and Napoleon singing "Never Get It All" on YouTube.
"Get It All" is wisely reprised on COUNTRY SOUL.
Another highlight of Ra'Shad's new album is his partnering with the renowned young gun of southern soul, J-Wonn, on The Blues Kid's signature single.
Listen to Ra'Shad and J-Wonn singing "Shake It (The Remix)" on YouTube.
In fact, what may be most impressive about Ra'Shad's first effort is the sureness of the artist's grasp of southern soul. There are hardly any of the mis-steps characteristic of typical debuts. A song like the mid-tempo but rocking-out "Good Love," for example, isn't a head-turner, but for what it is, it's done well.
And yet there is one such exception--and mis-step--on the CD: the mall-generic, straight-blues "Dance". "Dance" could have been recorded by a million other blues artists. On "Dance" Ra'Shad becomes anonymous.
Listen to Ra'Shad singing "Dance" on YouTube.
The point is that only Ra'Shad The Blues Kid could have recorded "Shake It" or "Saddle Up" or the heartfelt "I Love The Blues" or the other tracks on Country Soul. Suddenly Ra'Shad becomes one IN a million, not one OF a million. Ra'Shad already understands this, as attested to by the rest of COUNTRY SOUL, and that's a huge step forward in his budding career.
--Daddy B. Nice
Sample/Buy Ra'Shad's new Country Soul CD at Amazon.
Sample/Buy Ra'Shad's new Country Soul CD at iTunes.
--Daddy B. Nice
About RaShad The Blues Kid (New CD Review!)
November 14, 2017:
NEW ALBUM ALERT!
Sample/Buy Ra'Shad's new debut CD COUNTRY SOUL at Amazon.
Sample/Buy Ra'Shad's new debut CD COUNTRY SOUL at iTunes.
COUNTRY SOUL Track List
2 Go Get It (feat. LJ Echols)
3 Shake It
4 Never Get It All
5 Back It Up
6 I Love the Blues
7 Saddle Up (feat. Napolean Demps)
9 Good Love
10 Shake It (Remix) [feat. J Wonn]
To automatically link to Ra'Shad's charted singles, awards and other citations on the website, go to "Ra'Shad" in Daddy B. Nice's Comprehensive Index.
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