The 8-piece funk & soul band Reverend Barry & Funktastic Soul featuring the Hellacious Horns, has been packing dance floors in SRQ since their very first gig on Halloween of 2013. The band, which is the brainchild of Barry Nicholson, bassist and lead singer, also features vocal diva Yaya Diamond. After listening to their 8 track album “Sxygdluv”, I can almost say with certainty that the only thing that would sound better than a Reverend Barry & Funktastic Soul album is a live Reverend Barry & Funktastic Soul show! To paraphrase an old saying, if you don’t give this album 5 stars, you’ve got a hole in your soul! From start to finish, this album is a thrilling document of a band and horn section at their best. Whether it’s a smooth soul rhythm or an irresistible groove, this collective delivers. A note of interest for old and new fans alike: Reverend Barry & Funktastic Soul are in the process of a name change to Reverend Barry and The Funk – they need it to be as snappy and tight as the rhythms they produce!
“Sxygdluv” provides everything a respectable funkateer could possibly require: dirty basslines, swaggering rhythms, rasping horns, and gloriously soaring and soulful vocal parts. The energy that the Reverend Barry & Funktastic Soul exudes in the midst of producing a song is stunning, and this recording displays that to the fullest extent. For a basic introduction to the forms of funk that the band follows, this album would certainly suit any given listener.
George Clinton, The Ohio Players, Gap Band, and Tower Of Power are strong influences on these funk tracks, while Earth, Wind & Fire’s influence asserts itself on many jams as well. But Reverend Barry & Funktastic Soul never sounds like it is going out of its way to emulate any of its influences.
In fact, the collective are recognizable and distinctive regardless of who is influencing a particular song. Full and textured, the title track, “Sxygdluv” is a hot little groover, with a Motown-esque subversion deep within the mix, and completed with a talk box, this sails the rails hard.
This album has many high points though, the effusive jam of “Back on to Me” and the funky “Play by the Rules”, a sparking, fiery blast which is not to be overlooked. Mixing cunning vocals, sharp horns, and a rhythm, tight, but loose enough for smooth grooving, the song breaks in and out of time with some amazing chord progressions.
“Take You There” and “Say You Love” have unique and interesting rhythm arrangements that are simultaneously explosive and hypnotic. They also has some tight horn work, roof-raising percussion-driven breakdowns and build-ups as well as powerful vocals by both Barry Nicholson and Yaya Diamond.
This percolating, mid-tempo bumpin’ cut, “Wise Man” is another terrific tune from this album. “Sxygdluv” is a marvelous collection of funk and soul tracks that not only showcases the band’s considerable chops as musicians but also their impressive songwriting and production skills.
It encapsulate the band’s strengths: the ability to craft gorgeous, irresistible, super-funky grooves. Musically Reverend Barry & Funktastic Soul aka Reverend Barry and The Funk are capable of conveying pure feel-good funk pandemonium at the drop of a hat, and “Sxygdluv” captures the band at the top of their game.