By Mark Jenkins
Friday, January 4, 2013
A guitar-and-drums duo that sounds a lot bigger, the London Souls opens its second album with bluesy swagger. That’s not all the group can do, but it’s fitting that “Here Come the Girls” begins with such vitality. In May, singer-guitarist Tash Neal was nearly killed after a hit-and-run accident. Although the album was recorded before the accident, it now sounds like a statement of defiance and renewal.
Despite its name, the London Souls is based in New York and makes music that’s largely rooted in the American South. But Neal and singer-drummer Chris St. Hilaire, who sometimes add piano or acoustic guitar to the mix, do seem to have Britain on their minds. Their supercharged version of Delta blues draws on such bands as Cream and Led Zeppelin, while the pop-oriented material takes cues from the Beatles’ early days.
The latter influence is most conspicuous in the twosome’s vocal harmonies, whether on such modern-rock numbers as the barreling “City of Light,” the album’s much-blogged teaser, or more old-timey tunes, notably “Bobby James.” But rollicking numbers such as “When I’m With You” are pure Merseybeat, demonstrating that there’s nearly as much Liverpool as London in Neal’s and St. Hilaire’s souls.