Trombone Shorty, Lifted Review
by Jeff Becker
Trombone Shorty is releasing his latest album called Lifted, the multi-instrumentalist and vocalist’s first album in 5 years and the follow-up to his Blue Note debut Parking Lot Symphony. The album features ten new songs and a variety of special guests, including vocalist Lauren Daigle and guitarist Gary Clark Jr. Lifted combines classic New Orleans sounds (funk, gospel, street rhythms, Mardi Gras Indian chants & second lines) with modern lyrics, melody and beats to create something fresh and unique. Troy “Trombone Shorty” Andrews is the bandleader and frontman of Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, a hard-edged funk band that employs brass-band beats, rock dynamics, and improvisation in a jazz tradition for those jazz listeners that like their jazz outside the box. Recorded at Shorty’s own Buckjump Studio with producer Chris Seefried (Fitz and the Tantrums, Andra Day), the album finds the GRAMMY-nominated NOLA icon and his bandmates tapping into the raw power and exhilarating grooves of their legendary live show, channeling it all into a series of tight, explosive performances that blur the lines between funk, soul, R&B, and psychedelic rock.
“I’m Standing Here” is a fine example of psychedelic rock meets New Orleans jazz. Guitar Clark brings the heat with his distorted guitar, which gives this track an overall fusion sound that is very enjoyable. The vocals and lyrics are delightful, and the male/female backing vocals create a powerful colossal sound. Trombone Shorty’s trombone solo matches the energy and fire of the song and has a nice balance of jazz and fusion elements. This will be familiar territory for a wide range of listeners and will bring some new fans to the jazz genre through Shorty’s genre-crossing music.
The title track has many of the same elements, with a rock guitar sound and energy that builds with the full horn sound that supports Trombone Shorty’s vocals. “I owe all that to my mother,” says Shorty. “She passed recently, but she continued to inspire me right up until she transitioned, and that’s why I put a picture of her holding me up at a second line on the cover of this album. She lifted me up to my whole life.” The power and love come through in the music, as does the energy of the band, which is partly because of their easy access to a recording studio. “Having my own studio meant that the band and I could capture stuff in the moment any time we were feeling inspired,” says Shorty. “It meant that we could take chances and experiment. I could call the guys up with an idea in the middle of the night, and they’d say, ‘We’ll meet you there in an hour!'”
Lifted contains elegance in both writing and performing, and the group creates an integration of textures that draw from different genres and eras. Each song is an adventure and one that will be appealing to a diverse set of people.