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The Neville Brothers

Valence Street

  • Columbia

The Nevilles — Art, Aaron, Charles and Cyril — grew up on Valence Street in New Orleans, which explains not only this album title but the simmering street feel of the set. Starting with the gritty guitar edge of the album opening “Over Africa,” there's a toughness here that has always been a part of the band's live shows, but too often absent from the Nevilles' studio recordings. Here, cuts like the groove-driven, sax-fueled instrumental title track, Art Neville's autobiographical “Real Funk” and his spiritual showcase “The Dealer,” (which evokes echoes of vintage Gil Scott-Heron), capture a raw and refreshing honesty. Linking the Nevilles' rich roots with contemporary flavors — as they do here on a track with Wyclef Jean — only adds to their already stirring musical legacy.

Kevin O'Hare