By Kasha Lishman
Two years after the release of their first album, Chameleon, The Rusty Yates Band is back again, cranking out bluesy, soulful tunes with their latest album, Passion. The band’s second album, written and recorded in the family-owned Chameleon Records studio, is a twelve song testament to Rusty Yates’ incredible musical diversity, featuring funk, soul, rock, blues, and R&B elements. The album also testifies to the talent supporting Yates: the seven man band provides a full brass arrangement, keyboards, bass, and drums.
Their second album continues to play to Yates’ strength—strong blues and soul vocals with the instrumentation to match. The album starts strong with “Rectify,” a soulful funk jam that harkens back to the funkadelic days of the late 70s. Max Toler cranks out a deep bass groove complimented by the bright, jazzy horn section, featuring Russ Bryant on saxophone, Nick Garrison on trombone, and Luke Scallan on trumpet. Yates’ vocals are bold as always and the female accompaniment adds a soulful element to the mix. The album’s second track “Cryin Cryin Cryin” begins with gospel-reminiscent keyboard melodies produced by keyboardist Matt Doran, followed by dynamic percussion completing the full sound of the Rusty Yates Band. Yates’ vocals create that deep sense of sadness that only the blues can convey. Toler’s experience working with the likes of Bootsy Collins and Louis Johnson comes to the forefront of “Love Rain Down.” “A Better Love” features vocalist Laurie Whitney, creating a nice change of pace. Bryant’s saxophone is the key to this song’s excellence—his soulful saxophone croons provides the smooth jazz backbone that adds to the harmonies of Whitney and Yates’ vocals. The album ends with a quieter love ballad, “Where Did You Come from Anyway,” bringing the listener back down to earth with a more stripped down version of the Yates Band.
Passion is the first album written entirely by Yates and the strong funk elements bring a new twist to the bluesy soul that Yates is known for. As a whole, Passion is yet another solid production from the Rusty Yates Band, touching on so many different styles of music and blending them together into a cohesive, finished product. From the beginning to the end, there is literally a song for anyone, from the “alternative” college student to the bluesiest blues musician.