Thursday, April 19, 2012

Undiscovered Soul: The Right Now

The Right Now (group)
Gets Over You (Right Now Music; 2012)
Stefanie Berecz (vocals)
Chris Corsale (guitar)
Jonathan Edwards (sax)
John Smillie (drums)
Greg Nergaard (bass)
Brendan O'Connell (keyboard, guiar)
Jim Schram (sax)

You remember the first time you heard Brand New Heavies, Beverley Knight or New Mastersounds? Well, that same excitement and awe is what you might feel when you take listen to the Chicago band The Right Now. I'm not sure how I stumbled upon them but I'm glad I did. A real sense of 70's and 80's soul that is balanced but is energized by the modern (yet retro) vocals of Stefanie Berecz.

The band's first album, Carry Me Home said a lot about the sextet's intentions. Here was a serious soul band emerging from one the most important soul hubs of America's Midwest with a vibe that is completely universal. It was fun, raucous and oozing with deep sumptuous vocals, lyrics of empowerment and funky beats.

The new album, Gets Over You is killer from the opening chords of 'Can't Speak For You." I almost felt like I was listening to Beverley Knight fronting BNH. The big fighting words of "speak for yourself, 'cause I can't speak for you" tower over you like giant wave. It may be a girlfriend speaking to another girlfriend about standing up but it can also tell all of us that we can all stand up against our own personal demons.

"Can't Keep Running," another song of love and loss pulls you into the Chicago Rhythm and Blues mode with passionate delivery from Berecz. The guitars from Corsale and keyboard work from O'Connell give the piece a dreamlike atmosphere which is balanced by the low toned horn work in the background.

"I Could Kiss You" is another deep soul groove packed with dense playing from Edwards, Schram and Nergaard. Berecz's presence reminds me of the more recent Bettye LaVette material - slightly raspy and a screaming representative for the lovelorn.

"Half As Much" is a massive punch in the face with a soul-hammer! All instruments are in unison here and the group just project a solid roundabout of R&B that if you aren't infected by the end of this 3 minute dissertation on love, there's something seriously wrong with you. Smillie's drums go from funkier to penetrating at the flip of a switch.

And if that weren't enough, they blast off with "Call Girl," a soaring piece of funk that will definitely get you thinking Brand New Heavies (with N'dea Davenport). Closing out the disc is the midtempo romp "Til It Went Wrong." Flowery melodies and groovin' hooks will definitely set you in place with the best soul tracks from the '80s. 

An absolutely perfect collection that balances out the past and future of soul. Chicago's answer to Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings? Maybe. But really these two bands go in very different directions on the soul scale. Gets Over You is a confident and well accomplished effort from The Right Now that should be on everyone's list by the end of 2012. It is definitely one of JazzWrap's Albums of the Year. Highly, Highly, Highly Recommended!...Oh, wait....Highly Recommended!

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