At 72, Aaron Neville's sweet, high tenor remains in remarkably good shape, and this set of doo-wop-era classics is a perfect showcase. Produced by Don Was and Keith Richards, whose rhythm guitar adds a Chuck Berry fan's grit throughout (see "Money Honey," "Ruby Baby"), it hews close to tradition. There's a faint mustiness to some of the more upbeat arrangements, but on slow jams like the title track (a falsetto-streaked 1961 gem by the Jive Five) and Curtis Mayfield's "Gypsy Woman," Neville suspends time in vocal amber, a true soul master at work.
Listening to the new album (and Blue Note debut) by New Orleans singer Aaron Neville, I have had trouble keeping a smile off of my face. I’ve listened to it in my car—a lot—and I’ve sent it through the headphones while walking the dog, transforming a winter evening into something sunny. I’ve pumped it through the living room speakers in the morning, and I’ve even tried it out on a difficult day when things were not going so well for me, to some fine effect.
Back in 1985, Aaron Neville offered fans a glimpse of his love of doo wop with the EP Orchid in the Storm. Over a quarter-century later, he returns to it on My True Story. Doo wop pre-dates rock & roll. Its reliance on the human voice in group harmony communicates not only melody but rhythm, and influenced the sounds of Motown, Stax, and early rock & roll.
New Orleans soul prince revisits his doo-wop youth. Keith Richards and Don Was co-produce…The old adage about music offering a route out of poverty was never truer than for Aaron Neville. As a kid living on the breadline in 1950s New Orleans, Neville lived for music – he was in a group with his brothers at 15 – listening with particular obsession to the vocal harmony groups of New York, Chicago and other Northern cities.Though Neville is properly considered a ‘soul’ singer, something of doo-wop’s purring harmonies and tear-stained romanticism fed into his own music.
It’s no musical stretch for Aaron Neville to attach his classic, sweetly soaring tenor voice to a batch of ’60s pop standards, the majority in the doo-wop vein. After all, his own “Tell It Like It Is” remains a classic of the era. Bringing in fellow fan Keith Richards to co-produce (and add some unusually laid back guitar) along with Don Was and a crack batch of players helps make these versions sizzle with a contagious energy they share with the originals.
AARON NEVILLE “My True Story” (Blue Note). Aaron Neville said recently that he had been trying to make a doo-wop album for the last 30 years, and that no record label would give him the chance. It should go without saying that this borders on the outrageous, even by the usual standards of music ….