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Soulive: No Place Like Soul

No pressure here. Soulive’s aptly titled sixth project No Place Like Soul is the inaugural, all-original CD offered by the resurrected Stax Records, now very much alive thanks to its partnership with Concord. Even though Soulive has sprinkled its CDs with a few vocal tracks in the past, the trio of guitarist Eric Krasno, organist Neal Evans and drummer Alan Evans were primarily an instrumental outfit. Not anymore. There are two instrumentals, “Bubble'” and the oddly metered, Hendrix-meets-Ventures “Outrage,” but the rest of the tunes are vocals as the band is now a quartet with the addition of reggae vocalist Toussaint, formerly of the Boston-based Toussaint and the China Band.

Having a vocalist makes sense for Soulive, what with Stax’s reputation with legends like Isaac Hayes, Otis Redding and Sam and Dave. Toussaint, with chops that sound aged with bourbon, fits right into the Stax sound, although he too often relies on shouting. Gritty is good for Soulive, and it shows on tunes like the one-chord funk of “Waterfall” and with the Gap Band/Ohio Players riffs in “Yeah Yeah,” beefed up with crunchy guitar solos.

Toussaint really gets his groove on with two reggae tunes, “If This World Were a Song” being the most satisfying. And after 12 funkified excursions, it’s nice to close the CD with “Kim,” where Toussaint’s falsetto recalls recent forays by Robin Thicke and Pete Belasco. It’s sweet soul music, indeed.

Originally Published