The Groove Kings - Blood Red (2009)

The Groove Kings
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Technically, the Groove Kings should have been called Groove King and Queen, but that doesn't spark much marquee attention. The duo, powerhouse lead vocalist Irene Marc and multi-instrumentalist Howard Forman, prepare the way for a rock-infused, bluesy soul workout that canonizes the torchy ‘70s rock of Santana and the soulful gusto of a modern Stax record on their latest indie project Blood Red. The Canadian pair, along with handful of guest musicians, prove to be well-trained pupils of a crafty blend of rock ‘n' soul. For the most part, Blood Red balances pop-rock with songs like the radio-primmed, jingle-perky "So Real to Me" and the playful vibes of "Real Love" which shines with the jubilant charisma of Earth Wind & Fire's "Sing a Song." The album coasts into the occasional jazz entrée ("Temporary Man") and cleverly plays with the Delta blues.

Technically, the Groove Kings should have been called Groove King and Queen, but that doesn't spark much marquee attention. The duo, powerhouse lead vocalist Irene Marc and multi-instrumentalist Howard Forman, prepare the way for a rock-infused, bluesy soul workout that canonizes the torchy ‘70s rock of Santana and the soulful gusto of a modern Stax record on their latest indie project Blood Red. The Canadian pair, along with handful of guest musicians, prove to be well-trained pupils of a crafty blend of rock ‘n' soul. For the most part, Blood Red balances pop-rock with songs like the radio-primmed, jingle-perky "So Real to Me" and the playful vibes of "Real Love" which shines with the jubilant charisma of Earth Wind & Fire's "Sing a Song." The album coasts into the occasional jazz entrée ("Temporary Man") and cleverly plays with the Delta blues. On "I'm the Rain" and the title track, the atmospheric heartfelt blues from Forman's electric guitar and Marc's focused melancholy tone, miles ahead of a Norah Jones' layout, gives the album some comfortable throwbacks of cool lounge-like struts. Even on the big uptempo jams like  "Bury Me" and the Santana-Aretha mix found on "What's Real," both sprawling with country-funk, the Groove Kings purposely deliver hard-hitting melodies, dynamic live instrumentation and convincing performances bound to please any music connoisseur. Sure, Blood Red sounds like a superabundant mesh of styles, but the Groove Kings find a way to streamline them into one cool collection that blossoms with attractive lyrics and lots of groove.

Notable tracks: "So Real to Me," "Real Love," "Chore," "Bury Me" and "What's Real"

Vocals: 3.5 stars
Lyrics: 3 stars
Music: 3 stars
Production: 2.5 stars
SoulTracks Call: Recommended
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By J. Matthew Cobb

 
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