Album Reviews

King James & The Special Men Needs

Act Like You Know

Artist:     King James & The Special Men

Album:     Act Like You Know

Label:     Special Man Industries

Release Date:     07-21-2017

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After having members of their horn section borrowed by heavyweights like Sturgill Simpson and Saint Paul and the Broken Bones, New Orleans rhythm and blues masters King James & The Special Men step into the spotlight on their six song EP Act Like You Know.  The ensemble, four-piece horn section and all, has been gigging together in New Orleans for the better part of a decade.  As a result, their music is guided by a sixth sense that only emerges when musicians share the stage night after night for years.

Mardi Gras may be a long way off, but listeners can be forgiven for donning beads and a mask after hearing the first few bars of “Special Man Boogie.”  A pair of slow blues, “Baby Girl” and “Tell Me” (What You Want Me to Do) channel the spirit of New Orleans legend Guitar Slim.  Frontman Jimmy Horn is a dynamic vocalist who takes a few cues from Dr. John, but this band shines the brightest when everyone gets a chance to cut loose.  On the joyously uninhibited “9th Ward Blues,” piano, percussion, and horns (including a tuba) melt into an infectious second line groove that ought to get feet shuffling and butts moving.

King James & The Special Men pump enough excitement into their music to make traditional New Orleans R&B appealing to a new generation of listeners.  Let’s hope that Act Like You Know propels this tightly honed ensemble into the national spotlight.

—Jon Kleinman

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