Album Reviews

Jack Mack and The Heart Attack Horns

Back to the Shack

Artist:     Jack Mack and The Heart Attack Horns

Album:     Back to the Shack

Label:     SSR Freeroll

Release Date:     10/03/2016


This soul music comes to you from Los Angeles, with some of city’s best players and a killer vocalist with quite a range named Mark Campbell. While there are very slight contemporary touches, this is, for the most part, damn good vintage soul. Long-time regional favorite, Jack Mack’s sweet soul has a thirty year legacy already, with ten albums, movie soundtracks and global television and stage appearances. Stax/Volt, Muscle Shoals, Motown and Philly echo through this music. Yes, you’ll soon be reaching for those great Wilson Pickett, Sam & Dave and Eddie Floyd records, because Jack Mack will spark a party mood.

Nine of the ten tunes are originals penned or co-penned by New Orleans raised vocalist, Campbell, and guitarist Andrew Kastner. They are joined by producer/drummer Tony Braunagel, B3 legend Mike Finnigan, their three piece horn section and three background vocalists. These folks are in high demand, having worked with artists such as Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Keb’ Mo’ and Taj Mahal. Their 2014 EP, Lookin’ Up, was produced by Grammy winning producer, Tom Hambridge, and they follow with another Grammy winning producer, Tony Braunagel, for this effort.

The band melds touches of blues into these tunes, perhaps best exemplified on the opening track, “Standin’ Before the King,” which features Melanie Taylor on vocals. “Somethin’ in the Water” highlights Mike Finnigan, and is fueled by Kastner’s bluesy guitar licks. As they reach the third track, “Don’t Let Her Go,” Philly soul takes hold. “Never Too Late” finds Campbell crooning a ballad. “Somebody to Trust” pushes the vibe to a gospel hymn. The band then moves into a funky soulful groove on “Serves Me Right” and “Bad Habit,” which has some cool, syncopated horn lines. “Change My Ways” is one of those slow, glorious soul tunes that you can easily imagine Otis Redding singing. The one cover, “Ain’t No Way,” is taken at a smoldering slow pace, building to crescendos, and then coming right back down. They finish in a rousing romp with “Let Me In.”

Put on your high heel sneakers, your fedora, or whatever else makes you feel good stepping out. Soul lives here.

-Jim Hynes

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