It’s not often that Canada is appreciated for producing gorgeous Rhythm & Blues, so it is a pleasant change that The Ria Reece Band are doing so well in their native country, particularly amongst the colleges, festival circuits and community radio stations of Montreal. Ria Reece melodically and expressively frontlines the band who have recently released this self-titled debut album in August of this year, and her distinctive vocal styling is testament to the understanding the band have of the genre and their gratitude to the artists who influenced them greatly.

‘The Ria Reece Band’ album is a soulful concoction of life, passion and musical flair presented into ten tracks that are either covers of some of the classics or fresh R&B compositions with a modern zest. There is a high quality sound intrinsic in the album that is indicative of live instrumentation – as if witnessing the band on a stage rather than listening in on an MP3 player. There are no enhancements made to the elements and this band don’t need them because their poise and control is clear to hear. Clearly this isn’t a band full of pretenders who have decided to form something after a casual conversation of boasting to each other that they can play “a bit”; this four-piece band have refined their music making abilities over years of practice, experience and an ear for the powerfulness in the genre.

Blues has downtempo connotations but that’s only a sliver of what this album goes into. The Ria Reece Band are as energetic as R&B bands come. This isn’t an album to sit down in regretful contemplation – this is something created for the listener to expend sweat, not tears. The vibrant rock guitars, neat drums and Ria’s passionate, somewhat domineering intonation will have you on your feet moving to some well-known songs in ways that you couldn’t have imagined accomplishing before. Listen out for reworkings of ‘At Last’, ‘The Rising Sun’ and an ‘I Just Want To Make Love To You’ cover that has more of a sordid edge and attitude than the original.

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