Just as some people grew up hearing their parents’ classic rock and later came to respect it, I grew up with ’70s Soul. As a kid I lived on the outskirts of Washington D.C. It seemed like it took at least 30 minutes to drive anywhere so I spent a lot of time in the car listening to my dad’s music. Upon hearing the first few seconds of Kings Go Forth’s The Outsiders Are Back, a rush of nostalgia hit me.
Perhaps appropriately, The Outsiders Are Back has a very under-produced and raw sound to it. The music is noticeably much more instrument-driven than today’s soul music or R&B. It’s packed with great harmonies from the lead singer Black Wolf and his background vocalists. To a virgin ear, he may sound like he’s oversinging at times, but it fits perfectly with this Superfly-era sound.
The Outsiders Are Back begins with an energetic opener in “One Day.” The drums and bongos featured in this song will have you involuntarily tapping your foot. Throughout the album, the instrumentation is a sweet sound to my sore ears. I like some of today’s brightest producers and the futuristic sounds they produce, but there’s just something about live instruments. For example, the saxophone solo, horns, and guitar in “Lost Paradise” are exceptional.
I appreciate the variety in the album’s 10 tracks. Stand out tracks like “Don’t Take My Shadow” and “High On Your Love” sound like authentic catchy soul music while the reggae-tinged “1000 Songs” is the perfect curve ball to keep things interesting.
Some of the tracks may have wider, cross-over appeal but I grew up with this sound so I may not be a good judge. It will be interesting to see if Kings Go Forth can really attract and keep a large following. Similar retro acts like Sharon Jones may be hinting at the possibility of a large musical revival on the horizon.
On the other hand, I couldn’t imagine today’s urban radio stations playing Kings Go Forth. Unfortunately it’s unusual to hear them play anything older than a few months. An adult urban station could play it, but it might confuse listeners as they mistake Kings Go Forth with a group from their high school days in the ’70s. I wish the band luck as I really enjoyed The Outsiders Are Back.