Ruf Records has released this monster of a CD September 2013– it is a banquet of southern blues delights. From the very first track “Magic Honey” enthralled me as I was drawn deeper and deeper into the luscious swamp of the sound created. This is a truly multi-dimensional album that draws its beat and drive from a variety of styles shakes them and stirs them up delivering a spectrum of sound that uniquely belongs to and is recognisable as Cyril Neville delivering a solo album that is stylish.
The album is dripping with the blues but not contained or strapped into a traditional format. Cyril has taken the blues structure wrung it out and re-created the notes so that it is modern, crisp and fresh whilst still full of blues integrity. This has created an album that is accessible and enjoyable the band and Cyril sound as if they were having fun and enjoying playing together creating a rocky-funky driven sound that makes you want to listen to Magic Homey time and time again. This is definitely not an album that will stay on your shelf or not make you stop and listen when played on random through the variety of media music can be accessed from today. The lyrics do not play second fiddle to the superb musicianship, as seen on, for example, ‘Money and Oil’, with its satirical take on today’s commercial society of selling! The messages within the tracks are strong and reflect the experiences of Cyril including racism on ‘Still Going Down Today’. I never expected a cover of a Rush track to appear on a blues-rock album, but it does here with a stupendous version of ‘Working Man’ given a makeover that is a delight to listen too. This album resonates with musical texture , reflecting the production skills of David Z who has a mighty pedigree having worked with Prince, Buddy Guy, Etta James, from the powerful melodic vocals of Cyril and the skillful musicianship of the band and the glittering list of guests including Walter Trout, Allen Toussaint and Dr John. It is the contribution of Allen Toussaint and Dr John that ensure ‘Swamp Funk’ delivers exactly what it says on the tin.
“Magic Honey” is a collaboration of talent who work together to ring out the best of every track and each other, it is a joy to listen to and reminds you why you love the blues so much. This is an album that is full of the sweetness of dripping honey portrayed by the vocals, with a definite sting in its delivery from the bee as shown by the combination of strong lyrics and blistering guitar solos that makes the guitar sigh and scream creating a blues sound that only a southern blues-man could deliver. Pour yourself a glass of wine, sipping whisky or any other tipple of your choice and sit back and listen to quality, this is truly an album that has had some magic stardust sprinkled into the mix. The highlight tracks for me are ‘Magic Honey’ for opening such a fine album, ‘Swamp Funk’ for bring the dance to the party and ‘Slow Motion’ for integrating a reggae lilt into the mix, and the rest for every track is there for a reason to create Cyril Neville’s very own Magic Honey.