Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Aaron Neville: The Voice of an Angel

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Aaron Neville: The Voice of an Angel

Article excerpt

Tattooed Heart Aaron Neville (A&M) For more than two decades, the Neville Brothers have been on a mission. As unofficial ambassadors of the New Orleans sound, Aaron Neville and brothers Art, Charles and Cyril have brought the spirit of Mardi Gras to the world.

On a parallel course, Aaron Neville has been a pop singer sharing duets with Linda Ronstadt and releasing records more inclined toward easy-listening airplay than to the funky halls that provide a smoky ambiance for the Nevilles.

In an attempt to reclaim the hold on Top 40 tastes first suggested years ago with "Tell It Like It Is," Aaron has wedded his classic tenor to mellow pop love-songs and tender ballads. Regrettably, he's still most recognized as the vocalist in an ad for cotton products ("The fabric of our lives") and in a supporting role with Ronstadt, but his amazing vocal talents have made commercial headway on solo albums such as "Warm Your Heart" and "The Grand Tour."

"Tattooed Heart" continues in that light but not superfluous vein. Whether he's singing pop-hit-crafter Diane Warren's "Can't Stop My Heart From Loving You," Kris Kristofferson's "For the Good Times" or Bill Withers' sultry "Use Me," the big man's gentle, incomparable voice rings true. "Why Should I Fall In Love," "Down Into Muddy Water" and "Beautiful Night" provide Neville the opportunity for bold melodic vocal statements, while the arrangements lean toward light orchestrations.

The last track, "Crying in the Chapel" emphasizes the enigmatic vocalist's spiritual side, while "In Your Eyes," the one song Neville co-writes, leans toward bittersweet country blues.

But Aaron Neville remains steadfast, the larger-than-life, rough-hewn man with the voice of an angel. A paradox, Aaron Neville's voice always rings true. Brian Q. Newcomb

***** Docabilly Doc Watson (Sugar Hill) Then and Now/Two Days in November Doc & Merle Watson (Sugar Hill) `When (folklorist) Ralph Rinzler traveled south to the Blue Ridge Mountains and found Doc Watson, it was not an acoustic guitar Doc held, but a '50s model Gold Top Gibson Les Paul electric ..." That according to bassist T. Michael Coleman, who produced Doc's new studio album. In the liner notes, Coleman goes on to point out that rockabilly was Watson's first professional posting in music.

The 72-year old singer and flat-pick guitar dynamo from Stony Fork, N.C., returns to those roots on "Docabilly," playing from the canons of Elvis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Johnny Cash and others, and performing in the company of acoustic-instrument sensations Marty Stuart and Mike Auldrige, with cameo appearances from twangers Duane Eddy and Junior Brown.

Recently, Doc's label, Sugar Hill, also reissued a pair of early '70s albums that Doc recorded with his son, guitarist Merle Watson, who died in a tractor accident in 1985. Songs like "Milk Cow Blues," "Corrina, Corrina" and "Snowbird" resonate with Doc's easy vocal warmth and the ultra-slick picking that made a legend of the father-and-son duo. Paul A. Harris

***** Sex & Violins Rednex (Zomba Records) The dizziest thing on the charts these days is a bizarre little track that melds old-time bluegrass with heady techno-dance beat. To make it all the more strange, the out-of-this-world combination is thanks to a group from Sweden, of all places.

The closest thing to Rednex's video for "Cotton Eyed Joe" is when Devo turned in an alien cowboy motif for "Whip It. …

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