The title “My True Story”, taken from a Five Jive track, is certainly true to the nature of the record as it’s real music biography. The release is a jukebox of hits coming from a bygone and shining era of American music, carrying the signatures of Lieber & Stoller, Pomus-Shuman, Jess Stone, Curtis Mayfield and Nugetre (the legendary Ahmet Ertegun of Atlantic Records).
Neville, king of melisma and falsetto, prowls on this record like a lion in the savanna, having been familiar with these tracks ever since he was a child. This time he trusts the advice of his producers, avoiding the pitfalls of over-production and over-saccharine delivery by making good use of his unique voice and of an all-star band which includes Keith Richards and Greg Leisz on guitars, Benmont Trench of the Heartbreakers on keyboards, Lenny Pickett on the saxophone and many more star players.
Starting with the elegant cover in true Blue Note style and the duration of the album, which is only thirty-eight and half minutes, this is a return to the way things were done way back when.
The repertoire is well known and infallible and the intention is to remain faithful to the original, even though here “Be my baby” moves on an unmistakable New Orleans groove and avoids going down the Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound route typical of the Ronettes. The emotional candor of “Tears on my pillow” (the hit by Little Anthony and the Imperials) and of “Goodnight my love”, the rock ‘n roll of “Little bitty pretty one” and “Work with me Annie”, the exotic touch of “Gypsy woman” (Neville dedicates the masterpiece by the Impressions to his wife Sarah), the fizzy energy of Freankie Lymon, the Teenagers and Clovers, the sophisticated urban poetry and the latin flavors of the Drifters by Clyde McPhatter, Johnny Moore and Ben E. King (“Money honey”, “Ruby baby”, “Under the boardwalk”, “This magic moment”… half of the track-list comes from there) help Aaron remind himself and others of where he comes from, before “Tell it like it is” and all the rest.
He sings divinely, loose and measured, while a saxophone (“Ting a ling”), a piano, a flute or an electric guitar serve as rigorous counterpoint and the backing singers harmonize with impeccable taste and timing. For fans of the genre (and who wouldn’t be a fan?) this is a release that’s can’t be missed and will also reignite the flame in forgetful fans of the Neville Brothers (over 20 years have passed between “Yellow moon” and “Brother’s keeper”). Laying any doubts to rest, “My True Story” is a jewel.
"My true story"
"Ting a ling"
"Be my baby"
"Little bitty pretty one"
"Tears on my pillow"
"Under the boardwalk"
"Work with me Annie"
"This magic moment/True love" (medley)
"Goodnight my love (Pleasant dreams)"