Ok, we’ll keep this review fairly short, mainly because there’s only so many ways of saying ‘groovy’ and ‘funky’. So here’s the stuff you need to know. ‘Tomorrow Night’ is the 7th album from singer/keyboardist Charlie Wood. Wood was born and raised in Memphis, moved to New Orleans at 17 to soak up the vibe then returned to Memphis to take up a residency in the famous Beale Street with his Hammond organ trio. The gig rapidly became the place to be, leading to Wood jamming with pretty much everyone who’s ever picked up an instrument or held a mic.
Wood, on turning 50, wanted to reflect on where he was and how he got there and hence his latest album, a groovy (see, not an easy word to avoid) collection of self-penned tracks and covers which evoke the musical hubs of New Orleans and Tennessee, seeped in Mississippi cool and effortless groove (sigh).
The opening title track is sheer hipster class, all double bass, brushed drums, handclaps and Big Easy horns. ‘Stay With Me’, as you will see from the above video (if you’ve got past the cocktail recipe), has a definite yacht rock vibe – complete with vocal nods to Michael McDonald.
And on it goes, you feel like you’ve heard these songs before…but in a good way. They’re old friends. There’s oodles of funky Hammond organ, lazy, soulful guitars and louche horns. Like Nutella wrapped in velvet, they’re as smooth and satisfying as biro on a banana skin. ‘Lullaby’ has got that 80’s comedy drama theme song thing going on (a la Moonlighting or Taxi).
The 6 minutes of ‘You Can’t Have My Blues’ is pure shades, pork pie hat, whisky in hand and wisecrack on lips, it’s the sound of a dude who’s been doing this since birth jamming with a band who channel cool through their instruments (fnarr).
And then we’re onto the covers. Al Green is handled with ease, Woods voice is a perfect fit for tackling the Reverend, it’s chilled, mellow, confident…honey on waffles daddio. The tempo is ramped up for a take on B.B. King’s ‘Never Make Your Move Too Soon’, blessed with an incredible live feel from Wood’s band of seasoned pro’s.
‘Killing Floor’ is given a jazz funk makeover and man, does it work! Guitar and Hammond solos spar while an impeccable James Brown backbeat is maintained. The after hours party ends with a take on Otis Redding’s ‘These Arms Of Mine’. It’s a brave man that tries to cover Otis but this is righteous stuff, it stays faithful while being given a slight jazz twist, kudos Mr.W.
So yes, boat drinks and sophisto blues/jazz bars. This is the real thing, performed by a cat who’s been there and played with the best. If you need a dose of authentic chillout cool then this could be precisely what the doctor ordered. A backwards glance at his roots from an artist still moving forward.
Reviewed by Gary Cordwell
Released on 12 November 2018 by Perdido Records
- Tomorrow Night
- Stay With Me
- The Good Stuff
- One By One
- How Can You Mend A Broken Heart
- Never Make Your Move Too Soon
- You Can’t Have My Blues
- To Memphis, With Love
- Members Only
- Killing Floor
- These Arms Of Mine