Music

Aaron Neville: Apache

Aaron Neville sounds overcome with feeling -- even orgasmic, without having to strain. Like a gentle rain, his voice soothingly cleanses the air.


Aaron Neville

Apache

Label: Tell It
US Release Date: 2016-07-15
Amazon
iTunes

Doctors report that birth rates increase one million percent every time listeners hear the sweet voice of Aaron Neville. Okay, I made that up. But it’s difficult to imagine crooning more sensual than his. If some honeyed vocals sound as if butter could melt in the singer’s mouth, Neville’s could melt rocks into lava. It’s that mellifluous. Fifty years after his first number one single, “Tell It Like It Is”, Neville is back recording music in the old funky rhythm and blues style he once helped make popular.

Neville’s voice is easy on the ears, but as the self-penned autobiographical tunes on Apache make clear, this hasn’t always been the case in his life. Interviewing him before a local appearance, Neville discussed his early prison experience as helping change his life. Hard times make its way in such material as “Hard to Believe”, “Stompin’ Ground” and “Make Your Momma Cry”. The honking horn sections here work in counterpoint to the tenderness deep inside the songs. Neville may act tough, but that’s just to hide the hurt.

And his voice has a permanent tear in it. He can’t stop crying, whether he’s happy or sad. The more romantic compositions such as “I Wanna Love You” and “Sarah Ann”, practically sob with happiness. There’s something sexy about the physical expression of such emotions. Neville sounds overcome with feeling -- even orgasmic, without having to strain. Like a gentle rain, his voice soothingly cleanses the air.

Then there’s the spiritual side. Songs such as “Heaven” and “Fragile World” suggest that while life on Earth may be hard, there’s a better tomorrow if we want it. Maybe, but these are the least effective songs of the bunch. Neville may be sincere, but he does not sound passionate -- the quality that gives the other material such strength. Heck, he might hope to see us all in the afterlife, but his apologies for past behaviors and strictures for the future seem clichéd. The music seems to come from his head rather than his heart. Sure, music can be smart, but there is nothing especially wise here.

Criticizing a musician for not having a better understanding of our shared past and what the future brings seems facile, but Neville brings that on himself for bringing up the topics. When he sticks to truisms about life is hard, love is good, his voice speaks louder than mere words. But despite its gospel underpinnings, songs such as “Heaven” sound perfunctory more than transcendent.

The best cuts, like “Be Your Man”, work best because of the particulars. Everyone understands sexual urges without the need to intellectualize them. Neville’s boasting comes out of love and desire. He’ll be your man whatever it takes. Sure, that means more than just sex but it also means sex. The New Orleans behind him just intensify the urgency.

Neville is 75 years old. One would think he’d be closer to god than he is to the pleasure of the flesh. That’s not the case. And he still remembers and regrets the pain he brought to his mother and to other loved ones when he was younger and more callous. Some things one never gets over until that judgement day comes. Give Aaron Neville an “amen”.

7

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less

This week on our games podcast, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

This week, Nick and Eric talk about the joy and frustration of killing Nazis in Wolfenstein: The New Order.

Keep reading... Show less

Gabin's Maigret lets everyone else emote, sometimes hysterically, until he vents his own anger in the final revelations.

France's most celebrated home-grown detective character is Georges Simenon's Inspector Jules Maigret, an aging Paris homicide detective who, phlegmatically and unflappably, tracks down murderers to their lairs at the center of the human heart. He's invariably icon-ified as a shadowy figure smoking an eternal pipe, less fancy than Sherlock Holmes' curvy calabash but getting the job done in its laconic, unpretentious, middle-class manner.

Keep reading... Show less
5

Multi-tasking on your smart phone consumes too many resources, including memory, and can cause the system to "choke". Imagine what it does to your brain.

In the simplest of terms, Adam Gazzaley and Larry D. Rosen's The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High-Tech World is a book about technology and the distractions that often accompany it. This may not sound like anything earth shattering. A lot of people have written about this subject. Still, this book feels a little different. It's a unique combination of research, data, and observation. Equally important, it doesn't just talk about the problem—it suggests solutions.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image