Neville Jacobs: Neville Jacobs
Neville Jacobs, an underthe-radar supergroup, first came together after a chance encounter at a poker table during New Orleans’ Jazz Fest several years ago. Keyboardist Ivan Neville—who comes from Crescent City royalty by way of his father Aaron Neville and played with the likes of The Neville Brothers and The Meters from a young age— and Baltimore-based guitarist and singer-songwriter Cris Jacobs had crossed paths several times with their respective groups, Dumpstaphunk and The Bridge, but a shared love of card-playing led them to begin writing songs together, ultimately culminating in Neville Jacobs’ self-titled debut LP. The album’s nine tracks beautifully intertwine the strengths of both musicians, with Neville’s NOLA-flavored funk meshing with Jacobs’ soulful, country-tinged spirit. The duo tapped the top-notch rhythm section of Dumpstaphunk bassist Tony Hall and drummer Brady Blade—a formidable pairing that has at various times backed up Dave Matthews, Emmylou Harris and more. Aaron Neville also lends his iconic crooning vocals to album track “Makeup of a Fool,” while Theresa Andersson adds some violin and backing vocals to the record. Opener “Wasted” gets things off to a funky start, with Jacobs laying down a cigarbox guitar riff and Neville switching over to a wah guitar to complement him—it’s similar to barn-burner “The Stakes,” which comes two songs later. “City Rain” shows a different side of the project, with Jacobs’ acoustic guitar and clean vocals accentuated by the younger Neville’s gospelleaning harmonies. Neville Jacobs are at their best when showcasing the energy, passion and tight-knit musical chemistry that the four musicians share, and their solid debut effort has all those elements—in spades.