Material: Like a nuclear warhead loaded with righteous love, The American Symphony of Soul is Cambridge, MA’s very own soul-party bomb of mass construction. Covers from Beyoncé, Michael Jackson and Bill Withers intersect with original tunes inhabiting similar musical heritage. Like any respectable funk mob, some of their appeal derives from their enormity, spilling off the stage and erasing the boundary between audience and performer. Transdimensional keyboards allow for P-Funk flavored excursions, a trio of brass adds full- flavored punch and bongos season their feel with comparisons to War.
Musicianship: A potent collective of exceptional abilities, Symphony of Soul can lay down ass-shaking grooves for a straight hour and a half without dropping a note. Lead singer Melissa Bolling executes goosebump-inducing vocals while drummer Dan Fortunato provides the rhythmic backbone for their sprawling arrangements. Meanwhile, guitarist Alex Mijailovic makes throwing down a complex, soul-fried bridge appear easier than a summer’s nap.
Performance: It’s clear audiences connect with Soul’s celebratory vibe. As a frontwoman, Bolling is eminently watchable yet she limits audience communication to a bare minimum, though she did call out the group’s dueling albums’ availability on iTunes and Spotify. The act also lacks an overall stylistic appearance and their aesthetically sharp logo was absent, except for a loyal fan’s wardrobe selection.
Summary: Symphony of Soul knows precisely what a crowd wants and fulfills that thirst with class and grace. Regretfully, slaking this desire results in a derivative character that constrains their sound within the boundaries defined by their forebears. If they want to forge a path in today’s competitive marketplace, they’re going to need an extra dose of novelty to push them into the spotlight.
Middle East Boston, MA
The Players: Melissa Bolling, vocals; Alex Mijailovic, guitar; Eric Tusch, bass; Jackson Clawson, keyboard; Dan Fortunato, drums; Mary Glaser, percussion; Willie Archibald, trumpet; Alek Razdan, tenor sax; Andrew Summerfield, alto sax.
Photo by Andy Kaufmann
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