Kings Go Forth, The Outsiders Are Back

Posted on June 6, 2010 by

Artist: Kings Go Forth
Title: The Outsiders Are Back
Label: Luaka Bop 90075
Release Date: April 20, 2010
Genre: Neo-Soul

Miss Sara from the KFAI’s Rockhouse pitched this disc to me with the preface, “These guys are out of Milwaukee. They’re supposed to be the next big thing to challenge Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings.”

For a reason I can’t wholly explain to my satisfaction, internally I went to the defense of Ms. Jones. I’ve been a fan of Daptone records, but I’ve run hot and cold.  Admittedly, I’ll confess that Jones’ most current release, I Learned the Hard Way is my most preferred from her catalog, but I really don’t have a personal connection with her nor does her record strike a nostalgic sentimentality that I deemed holy.

So I’m envisioning this musical boxing match and I’m in Jones’ corner before the first round ever began.  I slipped the disc into the player and The Kings come out swinging.“One Day” opens like the instrumental second half to Curtis Mayfield’s “Move On Up.” This is Chicago Soul. Black Wolf, the lead singer and poet behind the lyrics of Kings Go Forth, lacks the richness in vocal timbre that Mayfield possessed, or even Cee-Lo Green for that matter. It wasn’t a knockout punch but it was a swing that connected, but it didn’t floor me.

Track two, “I Don’t Love You No More” is more of the same but better. It stepped a little further away from mimicry. It almost makes the first song unnecessary. If you can write a song that clearly displays an allegiance to a sound, why be so derivative in the previous number? “I Don’t Love You No More” is a superior reworking of “One Day.”

“You’re the One” glides into a smooth uptown groove, which exhibits another weapon in the Kings’ arsenal. The band gravitates toward an upper register three-part harmony, which I find is prevalent throughout the recording.

It is easy to recognize the band respects its influences; they are technically sound. Production values are high and that’s why “Don’t Take My Shadow” works so well. “Shadow” is a roundhouse punch of Philly disco with strings and a signature percussion break. The only thing missing is Teddy Pendergrass and a Sigma Sound credit. This is the killer cut.

But I still think Sharon Jones will withstand anything this band can dish out. The production is so tight that if the band has grit, it has been glossed over. If people deem Sharon Jones the Queen of Neo-Soul, the Kings are kings only in name.  They need to fight through a few more tours and recordings to get that match.

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