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This significant album established Kenny Neal as one of the
Tim Holek | 08/19/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
On his second Alligator release, Kenny Neal vigorously meshes with special guest Edgar Winter and prominent band members such as Lucky Peterson. Neal, a Baton Rouge native, learned to play bass in his father's (Raful Neal) band. At 17 Neal was on the road with Buddy Guy. In the early 80s, he formed the Neal Brothers Band and moved to Toronto. In the late 80s, he returned to the States thanks to a recording contract. Neal's Alligator debut was very credible. Devil Child is monumental as all aspects of Neal (songwriting, vocals, guitar, and harp) have progressed. Neal co-wrote eight of the 11 songs and includes a cover by one of his father's songs. The songs prominent themes include challenging relationships and problematical personalities. No doubt Kenny's chugging harp was influenced by his Dad while Buddy Guy's affect exposes itself on Kenny's controlled guitar.
The pulsating King Snake Horns are full of energy and add finesse throughout 40 minutes. Via their interweaving, they create a party on "Can't Have Your Cake And Eat It Too". They push "Yack Yack Yack" along with a forceful current. Here, like "Our Love Is Running Out, the distinguished bass guitars of Bob Greenlee or Kenny's brother Noel can be heard. As Peterson's commanding keys add phenomenal fills, Jim Payne's heavy drums carry a loping beat on the opener "Any Fool Will Do". Lucky's outrageous funk grooves anoint "The Further We Go". During the title track, Neal's churning harp takes you to the Deep South. You will struggle to decide which you like the most - his guitar or harp skills. While, Neal exposes his heart and soul via hungry vocals and arresting guitar, "The Son I Never Knew" tackles a complicated situation. It forces the listener to ponder what life this father and son may have had if they had met and begun a relationship. The radio friendly "I Owe It All To You" details a strong woman who is there to support her man. Using deep, ahead-of-his-time vocals, "On My Way To Heaven" showcases Neal as the premier voice of a new blues generation. This significant album, which was recorded when he was in his early 30s, established Kenny Neal as one of the best contemporary blues artists.
--- Tim Holek
A terrific contemporary blues record
Docendo Discimus | Vita scholae | 05/14/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Raful Neal's son Kenny is a highly talented singer and multiinstrumentalist who blends Louisiana swamp blues with strands of soul and R&B.
1989's "Devil Child" is his second album, and it's a really solid slice of modern electric blues. Neal is backed by a horn section on the majority of these 11 tracks, and that's pretty good, but his own harmonica playing on "Change My Way Of Living" and the gritty title track is even better. And he plays a mean lead guitar, laying down a couple of great, not-too-polished solos. Check out the slow burners on "Our Love Is Running Out".
There may not be any #1 radio hits here here, even with the presence of terrific songs like "Devil Child", "Can't Have Your Cake" and the profound and soulful "The Son I Never Knew". But there are no clunkers either, and certainly no need to skip anything along the way. The overall quality of this material is very high, even without a new "Hoochie Coochie Man" (or whatever), and the songs are tight and well-produced.
The rhythm section is equally tight and supple, the combination of harp and horns works very well on the punchy "On My Way To Heaven", and Kenny Neal has a voice well suited to the blues, as is evident on songs like the swaggering "I Owe It All To You" and "Any Fool Will Do".
Some blues fans would probably have liked a little more grit and gravel, but "Devil Child" is a really solid and very enjoyable mainstream blues record. It's not quite as good as Neal's 1994 album "Hoodoo Moon", but that's not 'cause "Devil Child" is mediocre - "Hoodoo Moon" is just an exceptional modern blues record.
All of Kenny Neal's Alligator albums are pretty great, actually, and this one is among the top half of them. Get it!"