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Aaron Neville - Okayplayer

Aaron Neville

If you’re over the age of fifty, you love Aaron Neville. If you’re under the age of fifty, you either like Aaron Neville, or you hate him. I, for one, dig what I call his “soul yodel” and think he makes pretty good music, especially when he works with his brothers. Not to mention, the guy is a NOLA legend who has earned his rightful place in music history. But his latest offering, My True Story, is a bit underwhelming. Not because Neville doesn’t sound good — the 72 year old singer sounds just like he has for forty years — but because we’ve all heard these songs over and over again, and now Neville has added to the pile of “overs.”

The point of the album was to reinterpret the doo-wop songs of Neville’s childhood. A trip down memory lane. And honestly, the songs sound good. He sings them just like the originals, with all the pop and swing that turned the sock-hops out back in black and white America. For instance, Thurston Harris’ classic “Little Bitty Pretty Ones” is covered by Neville in the same tempo and with, for the most part, the same music. The only difference is the voice. The same goes for The Drifters’ “Under the Boardwalk” and “This Magic Moment.” The only notable variations is that Ben E. King’s voice is smooth, and Aaron Neville’s is more of the über-vibrato vocal styling he’s become famous for. That doesn’t mean that that makes Neville’s remakes bad. If anything, there isn’t enough difference in the new renditions of these oldies.

My True Story is Aaron Neville paying tribute to his heroes, singing down memory lane, and for that I applaud him for this personal milestone. But as an album, there is nothing Aaron Neville is offering in these remakes that would make anyone want to listen to his versions instead of the originals. Therefore the album falls flat, and comes across as a well executed, but arbitrary project, from a legend.

-Jason Reynolds


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