BY SCOTT CUNNINGHAM // Album brings girl group soul power to retro revival
Soul music rooted in the sounds of the 1960's is enjoying something of a renaissance.
Several male artists have successfully incorporated retro-soul into their sounds, Mayer Hawthorne and Anderson East immediately come to mind. Female musicians heading down the retro route are harder to name.
Enter Charlie Faye and the Fayettes with a brand new self-titled release, an album that solidly places Faye among her male contemporaries and adds a refreshing dimension to retro.
Searching for a musical home, Faye left her native New York City and headed to Austin several years ago, settling into a singer-songwriter format steeped in Americana and modeled after artists such as Carole King and James Taylor.
Her solo work in Austin garnered both positive press and airplay, but Faye has hit the proverbial sweet spot with Charlie Faye and the Fayettes.
Faye has zeroed in on a 60's cosmic groove, managing to channel iconic girl groups of an era long behind us while keeping the material fresh and relevant to today. Sweet Little Messages, for instance, would be as radio friendly in 1960 as it is today.
Joining Faye on the album are BettySoo and Akina Adderley. Their background vocals provide a perfect complement to Faye's lead, with harmonies supremely rounding out the sound in ways reminiscent of the Shirelles (Soldier Boy) or the Angels (My Boyfriend's Back).
Green Light kicks off the album and serves as a preview of what comes later in the album: Pop-infused soul containing catchy lyrics that work their way into your consciousness and have you singing along by the time the second chorus comes around.
Heart harkens back to Buddy Holly's Everyday, listen closely and you'll pick up the similarities between the celesta on Everyday and the glockenspiel on Heart. The track also works in a reference to Elvis, as Faye implores her heart to "don't be cruel."
On the track Eastside, Faye ventures into social commentary and highlights issues associated with gentrification. Although the song speaks about Austin, it could just as easily refer to any rapidly changing area here in Portland.
See You Again is upbeat and danceable, with a terrific bass line and well-placed horns. The track's hook is "I've made up my mind, I've just got to see you again" and provides a fitting close to my thoughts on the album.
I've made up my mind and I've got to hear more of Charlie Faye and the Fayettes.