As seen on dmagazine.com, written by Zac Crain
On Saturday night, Bastards of Soul played a triumphant, sold-out show at the Kessler Theater, celebrating the release of their 10-song debut, Spinnin’. It was a return engagement for the band, after it opened a similarly packed-out show in January for Austin’s Black Pumas and, by all accounts, wowed the crowd as much as the headliners did. A real Commitments moment.
If you haven’t heard the band yet, you can rectify that now: Spinnin’ hit streaming services and record stores on Friday, courtesy of Eastwood Records (a new label formed by Luke Sardello of Josey Records and Jeff “Skin” Wade of The Ben & Skin Show and Mavericks broadcasts.) You might not know the songs but you know the sound, which pulls from the Memphis sound of Stax/Volt and Hi Records in the early 1970s, with a bit of the Swampers, the house band for the Muscle Shoals studio in Birmingham, thrown in. “Southern soul” if you want to be more concise. Prediction: you’ll be hooked by the time the horns come in after the first drum fill and organ flourish in opener “I’ve Got the Key.”
Bastards of Soul has been around since 2016, growing out of The King Bucks, the country band that Danny Balis (bass) and Chad Stockslager (keys) played in. Guitarist Chris Holt, who has recorded and toured with Don Henley, has been in other musical outfits with both, so there’s a lived-in chemistry that every good soul and R&B band requires. Plus, all three — and drummer Matt Trimble — are top-notch sidemen in the Stax/Volt/Hi tradition. The group is as tight as a three-time divorcée’s face.
But what a great soul and R&B band needs is a magnetic singer with a voice like a sledgehammer wrapped in velvet, and Bastards of Soul has all that and then some in Chadwick Murray. It’s sort of stunning to me that this is the first time he’s fronted a band. Watching him at the Kessler, he has the entire soul singer package: the voice, the shouts, the presence. At his best, which is often, he’s Otis Redding shimmying through a wrinkle in time while staying immaculately pressed. Not a stain on him.
“The Waiting Time” is a good introduction to Bastards of Soul, an easy summertime groove with the blue-gray yearning of winter on top. The video, too, directed by Paul Levatino, captures the aesthetic, and features of cameo by local soul queen N’Dambi (once upon a time one of Erykah Badu’s backup singers) as a bartender. We are happy to premiere it for you today.
Video Premiere: Bastards of Soul, ‘The Waiting Time’