Last year, the Revelations featuring Tre Williams released their Deep Soul EP, which was not only one of my favorite recordings of the year, but one that I voted for in the upcoming “Top Albums of the Decade” feature here at Popdose. For their debut full-length album, The Bleeding Edge (Decision Records / Traffic Entertainment), the Revelations have added an additional eight songs to the EP’s seven. Let me get this out of the way here, because if it’s true for the Avett Brothers, it’s true for the Revelations. Fifteen songs is too many for an album. The original seven were great. Three or four more would have been perfect for the album. As it is, not all of the new songs rise to the level of those on the EP, and a nearly perfect soul album could have been gleaned from a more judicious selection of songs. I intend to keep fighting this fight against extreme album length, so I hope you’ll give me some room on this.
Tre Williams is a force of nature. I would argue that he is one of the greatest male soul and R&B vocalists to emerge since the heyday of Teddy Pendergrass and Luther Vandross, though stylistically he reminds me more of the immortal David Ruffin. Williams is ably assisted by former Roc-a-Fella artist Rell, who is Williams’ co-lyricist and vocalist. The Revelations themselves sound like they were picked up on the street, and I mean that in the very best possible way. The truth is that the band is populated by musicians who have performed with Wyclef Jean, Lauren Hill, Matisyahu, Sly and Robbie, Erykah Badu, Branford Marsalis, and others.
The great news is that the great songs the drove the Deep Soul EP are here in all their glory, from the driving, Motown-like intensity of the opening track “Stay Free” to the Philly soul vibe of “Everybody Knows” and the pounding gospel feel of “Heavy Metal Blues.” Among the new songs, the adulterous tale “How Do I Tell Him” is currently making some noise at radio. Several of the new entries are of the slow burn variety, and of these my favorite is the bluesy “Let’s Straighten It Out.” The band is nicely showcased in the opening instrumental sequence, notably the playing of guitarist Wes Mingus, and keyboard player Borahm Lee. It’s also a good place to pick up on that Tre Williams vocal magic.
So here’s the deal; maybe you have the Deep Soul ep, but you probably don’t. If you don’t, The Bleeding Edge is a no-brainer for any fan of this genre. If you do, you’re still going to want the new songs. Either way, The Revelations featuring Tre Williams may just become your favorite new band.
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