Album: Okra Candy
Label: Mustard Lid Records
Release Date: 04/21/2015
Kevin Russell’s band manages to keep up with his eccentricities, but God knows how. He writes songs about convenience stores, root vegetables and dead batteries. Hell, I don’t know what half his songs mean, but I wind up singin’ ‘em anyway. With vocals just this side of Marvin Gaye and Wilson Pickett, and a swampy groove Dr. John would relate to, Russell makes everything sound good. Well, almost everything.
“Baby, What’s Wrong?” poses a rhetorical question to an alcoholic girlfriend, and provides the soulful answer: What’s wrong with you is that I’m gone. Funny, harsh and dead-on serious about over-boozing, he’s written a great song and delivered it with memorable funkiness. “Donut Taco Palace,” on the other hand, repeats the title like, 1,000 times, recites the menu (“Chorizo and beans. Cream filled eclairs.”) and ends with “Shinyribs! Huh!” being repeated another few dozen times. Frankly, I don’t get it, but fortunately it’s the shortest cut on the album. There’s much to love, including “The Sacred & The Profane,” about life and death and movin’ with the groove. If you can sit through this one, you are already dead.
The band doesn’t often travel far out of state, but when in Texas or states nearby, try to find a spot to soak in a set or two. As with his nearly two decades with the Gourds, Russell’s best appreciated live. His R&B moves, the band’s precision and seeing him play a ukulele in a total funkfest is worth the trip, trust me. He calls Shinyribs’ music “country-soul” and “swamp-funk,” and that’s probably as close as anyone will come to describing it… until he throws in another style sometime in the near future, and then we’ll be scratching our heads again.