CD Review: NORTHERN SKY by Kyle Elliott & Voodoo Soul - KC BLUES NEWS, July 2011

July 19, 2011 at 10:06am

                I got a copy of “NORTHERN SKY” (Drive Records, DR-811232), the debut CD by Kyle Elliott and Voodoo Soul and I was a little surprised.  Elliott’s live performances usually contain a massive dose of guitar pyrotechnics, and although there is plenty of heavy duty guitar work on this CD, the guitar was not the dominant ingredient of the finished product.  The CD features more of a band sound, with each individual member putting in their own two cents worth.  That, in part, could be attributed to the excellent mixing job done by Andy Oxman of Sound Works Studios.  Every member of Elliott’s Voodoo Soul is somewhat of a virtuoso, and usually bands comprised of several virtuosos can be found playing against one another and not with one another.  This is not the cast with “NORTHEN SKY”. 

                All ten tracks are originals penned by Elliott and feature a blend of traditional Blues, funky R & B,  Blues-Rock, Psychedelic and a little Rock-a-Billy.  The songs are well written, however there were moments where the various vocalists struggled with some of the lyrics.  A few tracks had some word-heavy passages that sounded a little clunky, but in the end it wasn’t terribly distracting.  It somehow all managed to work in its own way.

                The CD opens with a great funky Blues-Rock instrumental called “Kansas City Rock”.  It’s a high energy track that definitely will get people’s attention.   Another highlight is “I’m Going Down”, a slow Blues number that features the vocals of J.D. Summers.  It’s a pretty straight forward Blues number, but it doesn’t drag or get bogged down by cliché Blues licks; the band manage to keep it interesting from start to finish.  Other notable tracks include “Brown Bottle Blues” which features a great fuzz tone rhythm guitar and “Funky Soul”, an instrumental seemingly taken from the Billy Preston playbook complete with old school electric clavinet solo by Ben Eisiminger.  Without a doubt the best track on the whole set is the least Bluesy song in the bunch, the title track, “Northern Sky”.  It features a Hendrix-like guitar riff coupled with a Trower-like chord progression and superb vocal delivery from Matt Davis.  I feel this may be a pre-cursor for what is to come from Kyle Elliott the songwriter.  All the songs on this CD are well written, but this tune stands on its own.  As far as debut CDs go, this was a decent effort overall.  I give it 3 out of 5 stars.