Ruby Velle & The Soulphonics: Soul With Sass

Ruby Velle & the Soulphonics is an eight-piece band steeped in sweet soul music. Formed at the University of Florida in Gainesville, the group spent years paying dues in Atlanta before issuing several 7-inch vinyl singles that brought them attention on the international deep funk scene. One of those songs, "My Dear," opens their debut It's About Time and spells out the Soulphonics' ethos: big, brassy arrangements reminiscent of mid-Sixties Stax classics, and a voice with shades of Gladys Knight and Sharon Jones. So yes, it's a retro-soul thing, but the difference here is in the lyrical details. Velle strikes a tone of comfort and sympathy on "My Dear," singing "I know it's not right to see fellas losing jobs and people homeless/ I know sometimes the world can be so hard/ Reach down and find the good in your heart." On "The Agenda," she testifies, "Life can be good but comes with bad often/ Someone's looking out for you." She isn't above a little sass, as her dismissive "Mr. Wrong" and "Medicine Spoon" proves. Overall, Velle impresses as a smart, optimistic young woman who is talented enough to evoke the sounds of yesteryear, and has the right band to help her pull it off. – Mosi Reeves, Google Play

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