Review: Aaron Frazer brings great old school vibes to 2021

MARK KENNEDY
·2 min read
This cover image released by Dead Oceans/Easy Eye Sound shows “Introducing...” by Aaron Frazer. (Dead Oceans/Easy Eye Sound via AP)

Aaron Frazer, “Introducing...” (Dead Oceans/Easy Eye Sound)

This year is going to be fine. How can we be so sure? It's starting with the release of Aaron Frazer’s debut solo album. One spin and you'll be spellbound, swaying — and smiling.

Frazer, the drummer and co-lead singer for Durand Jones & The Indications, has teamed up with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys for the electric, falsetto-fueled and soulful 12-track “Introducing...”

Auerbach has empowered Frazer to more deeply explore funk, soul, doo-wop, fuzzy guitars and blues, creating an old-new and deeply satisfying sound, from the horn- and Wurlitzer-led “If I Got It (Your Love Brought It)” to the torch song “Leanin' On Your Everlasting Love.”

With vibes of Curtis Mayfield and Marvin Gaye and an irresistible bass line — and wait, a flute? — “Bad News" is tremendous, satisfying both your finger-snapping and soul needs. There’s even a moment in it when Frazier simply abandons his falsetto for a split second, thrillingly.

Auerbach's clout is evident, as when legendary songwriter L. Russell Brown, who wrote hits for falsetto star Frankie Valli, helped write “You Don’t Wanna Be My Baby,” the album’s glorious opening track. Another standout is “Over You,” a pulsating jewel built on an addictive drum beat and chunky bass.

“Ride With Me” — co-written and featuring Memphis Boys keyboardist Bobby Wood — uses a train metaphor ("Children can you hear it/Can you hear that whistle blowing?") to signal change is coming, recalling The O'Jays' “Love Train.”

Frazer drums and sings throughout and his more famous co-writer plays guitar and sings backup as they make revival soul worthy of Motown and Stax. It is music to dance to, drive to, cook to, celebrate friendships to — 2021 starting with the coolest of highs.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits