Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Album Review: Various Artists - Take Me To The River: New Orleans

Various Artists
Take Me To The River: New Orleans Soundtrack
**** out of *****

The soundtrack to the extremely affecting film, Take Me To The River: New Orleans is a slice of the city itself as legends, new artists and famous guests all join the party, adding their spice to the musical gumbo of this long running soundtrack. For those who are already fans of the city and it's music and newcomers as well, this capturing of sounds will be a fruitful listening experience to compliment the film.  

The effort begins under the hot and hazy sun, slowly working up a sweat with a looping pace, as Cyril Neville (backed by the Voices of The Wetlands) croons that he is "In Love With My Nola" around light Caribbean breeziness before Big Freedia brings the dirty get down bounce, helped along by Mannie Fresh and Galactic. 

The party really kicks off when The Soul Rebels and 5th Ward Weebie shoutout the area code of "504 (Enjoy Yourself)" delivering a highlight offering which drips into the party propelling "Street Parade" by Dumpstaphunk with Cyril Neville. This being New Orleans, the good times just keep rolling through PJ Morton's electric "New Orleans Girl" which gets jumping with the likes of Cheeky Blakk and Rebirth Brass Band.   

The film and soundtrack took a long time to come together and lots of artists who participated are no longer living, including 5th Ward Weebie, Art and Charles Neville and perhaps someone who represented NOLA more than anyone else over the last half century, Dr. John. The good doctor plays two piano offerings supported by Davell Crawford "Jock A Mo" (written by Davell's grandfather James "Sugar Boy" Crawford) and the moving "Someone To Love". Crawford takes the solo piano reigns and ups the ante with the gospel influenced spiritual "We Shall Gather By The River", a heartfelt stunner. 

From the churches to the clubs, that is how New Orleans rolls, and this soundtrack is no different as Snoop Dog, G-Eazy and William Bell contribute on a supped up rendition of the classic Allen Toussaint/Lee Dorsey hit "Yes We Can Can" as George Porter Jr. and more support the hip hop flow. Aaron Neville shouts out to legends and locales on the funky as all get out "Stompin' Ground" that features some of the best horn work on the album courtesy of The Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Those bright horns are everywhere though and the jazz legend Donald Harrison helps out the next generation known as the Tipitina's Interns on their popping version of the traditional "When The Saints Come Marching In" and the modern generation with his nephew Christian Scott. That duo light up the ears with a blazing modern jazz display titled "Sand Castles Headhunters", stunning from the first notes. 

The soundtrack runs long, but there is a lot to cover musically with this town.  The percussive Mardi Gras Indians get after it with The 79ers Gang "Wrong Part of Town" and the chanting Big Chief Monk Boudreaux who guzzles that "Firewater". The Cajun country is represented by The Lost Bayou Ramblers who fiddle around and bring onboard Walter "Wolfman" Washington and Ani DiFranco to round out "Blue Moon Special". Classic soul and R&B, which traces lineage down river, also gets an airing as the legendary Irma Thomas partners with the modern day diva Ledisi to sing the powerful "I Wish Someone Would Care" backed by the funky grooves of George Porter Jr., Eric Krasno, Ian Neville, and Ivan Neville

While it runs for miles like the river itself, and the sequencing gets a bit odd at times, there is no doubt that there are many many musical gems to be found within. This could very easily have been a triple album or beyond with the immense musical talents and offerings found down south in New Orleans. Be sure to watch the documentary film and then pick up the soundtrack to Take Me To The River: New Orleans for hours of funky fun. 
Having seen the film back in April, RtBE finally gets to the soundtrack.  It is a doozy. 
Support the artists, buy the album and peep some video below:

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