Aaron Neville - My True Story (2013)

Aaron Neville
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Aaron Neville is a music legend who has probably forgotten more about the art and craft of song making than most other performers will ever knew. Neville brings more than talent in the form of his buttery soft tenor; he also brings his family history. In addition to his work as a solo artist, Neville is a member of one of New Orleans’ famous musical families, the Neville Brothers.

Aaron Neville’s most enduring fame has come as a solo artist. He is perhaps best known for his 1967 recording of the soul classic “Tell It Like It Is” and his hit duet with Linda Ronstadt, “Don’t Know Much.” Through the ebbs and flow of fame and personal tragedies, Neville has managed to remain a mainstay of the charts for all or part of five decades.

Aaron Neville is a music legend who has probably forgotten more about the art and craft of song making than most other performers will ever knew. Neville brings more than talent in the form of his buttery soft tenor; he also brings his family history. In addition to his work as a solo artist, Neville is a member of one of New Orleans’ famous musical families, the Neville Brothers.

Aaron Neville’s most enduring fame has come as a solo artist. He is perhaps best known for his 1967 recording of the soul classic “Tell It Like It Is” and his hit duet with Linda Ronstadt, “Don’t Know Much.” Through the ebbs and flow of fame and personal tragedies, Neville has managed to remain a mainstay of the charts for all or part of five decades.

Neville recently returned to the studio with his new project of doo-wop covers, My True Story. Neville’s status as a legend and – let’s face it – his age inoculates him from the questioning of motivations that other artists face when they make a record of covers. When Neville, 71, says that he made My True Story because it gives him a chance to sing the songs that influenced him as a youngster, you believe him. One factor that allows Neville to get the benefit of the doubt is the songs that he decided to cover. A tune such as The Impressions’ “Gypsy Woman” is not exactly obscure, but it hasn’t been done to death either. Other cuts such as “Money Honey,” “My True Story” and “Goodnight My Love” richly deserve the reintroduction that they will receive by being included on this album.

Neville manages to strike the proper balance between the recognizable and the tragically overlooked. And while this record consists of tunes that have been in the public domain for years, My True Story does yield some very pleasant surprises. Neville is known for lending his tenor to soulful ballads such as “Tell It Like It Is” and remakes of mid-tempo classics such as “Everybody Plays A Fool.” This earned him a reputation as more an adult contemporary guy.  Nothing wrong with that, but My True Story is at its best when Neville takes a shot at rollicking rock, blues and early R&B. He dives in at the beginning with his rocking and energetic take on “Money Honey.” Next, Neville showcases his doo-wop chops on the title track, a first-person telling the story of an ill-fated romance. Neville’s soft tenor adds that necessary touch of wonderment to the R&B doo-wop cut “Ting a Ling, which tells the tale of a guy set free in a world of a beautiful woman.

It shouldn’t be surprising that Aaron Neville loved songs penned by people as divergent as Brill Building songsmiths Ellie Greenwich, soul shouter Hank Ballard or the poetic Curtis Mayfield. After all, he grew up in New Orleans, which means he spent his youth bombarded by all types of music. Still, the ease with which Neville moves from the dreamy doo-wop of “Be My Baby” to bluesy  “Ting a Ling” affirms the depth and breadth of this legendary artist’s knowledge and range. Recommended

By Howard Dukes

 

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