Aaron Neville gets funky on latest studio LP
The 17th studio album from multi-Grammy Award winner Aaron Neville is titled, Apache. The new release via Tell It Records and Kobalt Music is the follow up to 2013's My True Story, which earned the renowned vocalist his first Top 10 album and highest-charting set of his five-decade career—reaching No. 7 on Billboard's Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart. Apache arrives as Neville celebrates his 75th birthday and 50th anniversary of his debut No. 1 single, ‘Tell It Like It Is.’ The new album was recorded at Studio G in Brooklyn with Grammy-winning artist and producer Eric Krasno (Soulive, Lettuce, Tedeschi Trucks Band).
“[Apache] brought out another side of me,” says Neville. “People were used to me doing a lot of ballads, but this is more gritty, and some of it has the New Orleans feel,” he comments on Pollstar.com. “One song [‘Stompin’ Ground’] talks about my roots … It names a lot of real people that were in my life at different points in time. Another one, ‘Orchid In The Storm,’ was inspired by my wife Sarah; she’s been my orchid in a storm, and still is.” Neville adds the song ‘Heaven’ is from a poem he wrote. “My inspirations come from real things in life and I have many more where these came from,” explains the ‘Don’t Know Much’ singer.
“I’m loving all the songs and I’m ready to do them on live gigs,” declares Neville in a message posted on AaronNeville.com. “The record is some of my poetry put to music, and a couple written by Eric Krasno [and] David Gutter who arranged the whole album.” The pair re-created the ‘70s sound by using instruments and gear from the period, while the use of “modern tricks” helped give the album “something fresh and new.” Apache reflects Neville’s “social and spiritual concerns,” according to the press announcement, marking only the second time in his 56-year recording career that he’s co-written nearly an entire album’s worth of material.
Certain songs such as lead single ‘Be Your Man’ and ‘I Ain’t Judgin’ You’ are defined as “heavy funk,” while the tracks ‘Sarah Ann’ and ‘Heaven’ take listeners to a “warm, soulful place that Aaron does like no one else.” The album title is a reference to a nickname that was given to Neville when he was a teenager. The part Native American would spend summers running around bareback with a headband wrapped around his long hair. An uncle was the first to call him “Apache Red” because of his skin tone, which Neville shortened to “Apache.”
The artist a Rolling Stone critics’ poll named Best Male Singer in 1992 and 1993 is supporting Apache with a series of performances at the Apollo Theater in New York City (Aug. 4); Atlantic City, N.J. (Aug. 6); Arlington, Va. (Aug. 13); Cincinnati (Sept. 16); Durham, N.C. (Sept. 23); and Wilmington, N.C. (Sept. 24). In October Neville heads to Brownfield, Maine (Oct. 7); Lincolnville, Maine (Oct. 8); and Gardnerville, Nev. (Oct. 22) before wrapping up the year in Austin, Texas. (Nov. 11); Bossier City, La. (Dec. 3); Baton Rouge, La. (Dec. 9); Rancho Cucamonga, Calif. (Dec. 10); Orange, Calif. (Dec. 11); Redding, Calif. (Dec. 13); and at the SF Jazz Center in San Francisco (Dec. 15-16).
Listen to the official audio for ‘Be Your Man,’ a featured track from the new Aaron Neville album Apache.
As A Matter of Fact…
* Aaron Neville was born January 24, 1941, in New Orleans. He says Sam Cooke is his primary vocal role model, but he was also influenced by Nat King Cole, Charles Brown, Ray Charles, and doo-wop groups. Neville also loved the country & western of Hank Williams, Roy Rogers, Gene Autry, and the Sons of the Pioneers.
* Neville launched his singing career in 1960 when he recorded the single ‘Over You’ with producer/writer Allen Toussaint. His second single, ‘Tell It Like It Is,’ proved to be the singer’s breakthrough hit in 1966 when the song topped the R&B charts and reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. He next toured with Otis Redding including an appearance at the famed Apollo Theatre in New York.
* The singer’s early success was tenuous, so Neville still had to support his family in New Orleans as a dockworker. In the late ‘70s, the Neville brothers (Cyril, Charles, Art, and Aaron) formed as a backing group unit for their uncle’s Wild Tchoupitoulas before striking out on their own.
* The sibling group initially found success on tour, but a 1989 debut album for A&M Records titled Yellow Moon was a critically acclaimed breakout as recording artists, led by the Aaron Neville-penned title track.
* In 1988, Neville’s son, singer-keyboardist Ivan Neville, had a Top 30 (No. 26) Hot 100 single with ‘Not Just Another Girl.’ His dad’s solo career took off later in 1989 when a duet with Linda Ronstadt on the pop and adult contemporary hit ‘Don’t Know Much’ topped the AC charts and got all the way to No. 2 on the Hot 100.
* Neville and Ronstadt again topped the AC charts in 1990 with ‘All My Life,’ which got to No. 11 on the Hot 100 and earned the pair another Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals.
* The platinum-selling album The Grand Tour from 1993 demonstrated Neville’s crossover versatility on a remake of a George Jones song. The following year he was one of the R&B artists who teamed with country stars for 1994’s Rhythm, Country and Blues compilation album. Neville’s duet with Trisha Yearwood on the Patsy Cline classic ‘I Fall To Pieces’ won the Grammy as Best Country & Western Vocal Collaboration.
* Neville never abandoned his gospel roots, earning Grammy and Dove Award nominations for his albums Devotion (2000) and Believe (2003). In 2002, the album, Nature Boy: The Standards Album came out on Verve in 2002, and the popular holiday album, Christmas Prayer, was issued by EMI Gospel in 2005.
* Neville balanced performing as a group member and solo artist until 2012 when the Neville Brothers played a farewell show at the Hollywood Bowl. The brothers also reunited in May 2015 for a hometown “Nevilles Forever” farewell performance during the New Orleans Jazz Fest.
* As an R&B, pop, country, and gospel artist Aaron Neville has amassed four platinum-certified albums, four No. 1 hits on the R&B and adult contemporary charts, and seven Top 10 singles on the R&B, adult contemporary, and pop charts.