Dharmasoul Sparks With 'Lightning Kid' (album stream)

Jedd Beaudoin
Photo: Joe del Tufo / Moonloop Photography / Courtesy of Nick Loss-Eaton Media

New Jersey duo Dharmasoul makes its musical and spiritual home in New Orleans as evidenced on soulful LP Lightning Kid.

Dharmasoul is a two-piece band featuring drummer Kevin Clifford and guitarist Jonah Tolchin. The duo mixes a variety of American idioms, starting with New Orleans-style blues, funk and soul and stretching into a variety of dusty, dirty, gritty subgenres that come together under one giant mosaic tent. These influences are woven together seamlessly, handled with an authenticity and ease that sometimes recalls the eclecticism of the almighty Little Feat.

Dharmasoul's Lightning Kid is out June 1 and it spotlight's these traits: "Bless Your Children" is an inspired slice of contemporary R&B which spotlights Tolchin's visceral, imaginative guitar playing. "Open Your Heart" finds comfort in gospel and soul while "Taste So Sweet" is thick and bluesy, its musical setting appropriate to its carnal-minded lyrics.

In the more rough-edged moments some will be tempted to draw comparisons between this outfit and the Black Keys, but Tolchin and Clifford carry a much more relaxed approach to their music, one based less on recapturing an idea of what American music is about and instead just letting it happen. (Dig the closing funkified jam "Vulgar", a song so laid back it seems to fall right out of your speakers and drip onto the floor. It also seems guaranteed to be a highpoint of Dharmasoul's acclaimed live shows.)

Tolchin says, "The songs on this record cover a spectrum of human experience. With 'Armored Hearts' and 'Bless Your Children' we delve into the shadows of human nature. On 'Chosen One' we tell the Christ story from a different perspective, one that urges everyone to take responsibility for their beliefs and actions, to 'let your heart be your own savior.'" "Lightning Kid" (the song and perhaps the album itself) is about, "Someone who may live in each one of us. The fiery rebel that won't back down or take anyone's bullshit. This personality type or archetype is the driving force of this record in a way. The kid-like orientation to have fun and get a little bit wild and experiment, paired with the lightning-bold energy that will rest at nothing to strike where it intends."

Adds Clifford, "We like to think that Mr. Rogers and Bob Ross could get down to this. Even though there is one obscene word on the record, they would find a way to accept it. We hope you enjoy!"


May 31 – Boot & Saddle – Philadelphia, PA

June 1 – Princeton Record Exchange – Princeton, NJ

June 4 – The Saint – Asbury Park, NJ

June 5 – Pete's Candy Store – Brooklyn, NY

June 6 – SoFar Sounds – New York, NY

June 7 – Methuselah – Pittsfield, MA

June 8 – Preservation Hall – Wellfleet, MA

June 9 – House Concert – Boxborough, MA

June 10 – Dreamaway Lodge – Becket, MA

June 11 – BBC Acoustic Lounge – Plymouth, MA

June 12 – Nick-A-Nee's – Providence, RI

June 14 – Foam – Burlington, VT

June 15 – High Mowing School – Wilton, NH

June 16 – House Concert – Cambridge, MA

July 6 – Hill Country BBQ – New York, NY

July 14 – Shady Grove Festival – Arden, DE

July 27 – Lompoc Café – Bar Harbor, ME

August 11 – Hopewell Theatre – Hopewell, NJ

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